May SciBar: Graphene – Unexpected Science in a Pencil Line

Monday May 13th 2019

Graphene is the world’s first 2-dimensional material and the subject of the Nobel Prize winning research led by Prof. Geim and Prof. Novoselov at The University of Manchester.

Graphene was first isolated in Manchester in 2004 using the ‘Sellotape technique’, but the history of graphene dates back over 50 years. Graphene has been studied as a theoretical material since it is the building block for graphite, a material of great technological relevance, especially in the nuclear industry. Graphene is the basis for other carbon allotropes as well, such as the 1-dimensional carbon nanotube and the 0-dimensional fullerene. Graphene can be mass produced by methods such as chemical vapour deposition, solution exfoliation, etc, and kilos of graphene ink or 100s of square meters of graphene coatings can be produced these days. Graphene has a number of superlative properties – it is the strongest and lightest material, the best conductor of electricity and heat, etc. By a careful combination of these properties, a number of exciting applications of graphene are being developed. Graphene coatings could replace indium-tin-oxide for the conductive layer of touch-screens in today’s devices, or form the conductive touch coating in future bendable and flexible electronic devices. Graphene can be mixed with polymers to form strong and conducting composites. Graphene can even be used in biomedical applications such as drug screening and drug delivery. Finally, the world of 2-d materials doesn’t stop with graphene. We now have a family of 2-d materials including modifications of graphene and other unrelated 2-d materials, and new 2-d materials continue to be isolated. The research and technology of graphene will be accelerated in the newly constructed National Graphene Institute in Manchester.

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan is a Reader in Nanomaterials in the School of Materials and the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester. He leads the Nano-functional Materials Group and his research involves the science and technology of graphene and 2-dimensional materials, particularly for applications in composites, electronics, sensors and biotechnology.

Graphene fell running shoes developed with University of Manchester School of Materials

Begins 6.30pm prompt at the Vale Inn, Adlington Road, Bollington. All welcome, no charge. Arrive early to be sure of a seat.

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January SciBar: Building Brains

Monday 14 January

Understanding the brain remains as one of the great frontiers of science – how does this organ upon which we all so critically depend perform its function as an information processing system?

The SpiNNaker (Spiking Neural Network Architecture) platform has been developed to
support real-time modelling of large-scale brain subsystems with the objective of accelerating our understanding of the inner workings of the brain. It incorporates a million ARM processor cores with a bespoke interconnect fabric specifically designed to enable the very high connectivity of biological brains to be modelled. The SpiNNaker platform is openly accessible under the auspices of the EU Flagship Human Brain Project, and is currently being used to support a wide range of neuroscientific research.

The SpiNNaker machine was switched on for the first time in November 2018. Read Steve Furber’s interview in the Independent.

Talk by Steve Furber, Professor of Computer Engineering, School of Computer Science, The University of Manchester

Begins 6.30pm prompt at the Vale Inn, Adlington Road, Bollington. All welcome, no charge. Arrive early to be sure of a seat.

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12 November Science Pub Quiz

SciBar on November 12 will be a science pub quiz! The questions are of the ‘general science / science in the news’ type rather than needing a science education or science career. The questions will span 50 years of scientific discovery in Space, the Environment, Computing, Biology and Physics. There will be lots of pictures to give clues, and bonus points in some questions – general aim is to have fun.

We suggest ‘table teams’: either plan a team in advance, bring the family, or turn up and find a like-minded person(s) to team up with. Though there’s nothing to stop you pitting yourself as a solo against larger teams.

Quiz starts prompt at the Vale Inn at the usual time of 6.30 pm, so arrive in good time to sort out your team and collect a pen and paper.
All welcome, no charge.

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Bollington Festival periodic table scarecrows

2019 is the International Year of the Periodic Table and 150 years since Mendeleev first published his influential periodic table.

As part of the 2019 Bollington Festival in May 2019, scarecrows depicting the discovery and uses of different chemical elements will form a periodic table science trail. The aim is for local groups or interested individuals to be involved in making around 20 scarecrows. Or more! Mercury and Einsteinium are already ‘bagged’.

Feeling creative and want to make a scarecrow? Due to a successful grant application to the Royal Society of Chemistry, there are funds available for materials to help the scarecrows (and accessories) and to create the downloadable trail map and podcasts.

Anyone interested in being involved in any aspect should contact Lindsay Ness, c/o the Bollington scibar email

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Delivering the genomic revolution in health

Monday 10 September

Genomics is the study of an individual’s entire genetic make-up, used within healthcare to tailor treatment, make prognoses and diagnoses. Technologies now allow the rapid decoding of DNA sequence, enabling the sequencing of a genome in a matter of days, though interpretation of this data is much more complex. Dr Ang Davies, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Bioinformatics and Genomics at the University of Manchester, will describe some of these innovative technologies, the data they generate and how we are developing the skills of healthcare professionals to enable this genomic revolution.

Talk begins 6.30pm prompt at the Vale Inn, Adlington Road, Bollington.
All welcome, no charge. Arrive early to be sure of a seat.

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Our changing rivers and the menace of microplastics

This talk will explore our changing relationship with the rivers of Manchester from the Industrial Revolution to the present day. It will look at historical records of river environments and consider the implications of very recent research by a team from the Department of Geography at The University of Manchester that has identified a new contamination problem – the menace of microplastics.

Talk by Professor Jamie Woodward
Talk begins 6.30pm prompt at the Vale Inn, Adlington Road, Bollington.
All welcome, no charge. Arrive early to be sure of a seat.

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New CAMERA (Chemistry at Manchester Explains Research Advances) video out

Steve Liddle who gave us the May SciBar (Uranium: A case of Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde?) thought we would be interested to learn that his group has just released the next video in the CAMERA (Chemistry at Manchester Explains Research Advances) project. The new video is on catalysis by gold.

The video is here
A link for all the videos is here

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Uranium, A Case of Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde?

Uranium has largely been relegated to nuclear energy and weapons development, but researchers from the University of Manchester think it could do so much more. The scientists discovered that it’s capable of new unprecedented reactions.

“What makes uranium unique is it sits at a crossroads in the periodic table, not a positional one but one in terms of character; it can behave like the lanthanides sometimes, the 14 element row above the actinides, or sometimes it reacts just like transition metals,” says Steve Liddle.

“We have literally hundreds of tons of depleted uranium sat in storage around the world as a ‘waste’ by-product of uranium enrichment, so it’d be great to do something with it.”

Come and find out more about uranium and the science that is done with it.

Professor Steve Liddle is head of Inorganic Chemistry and co-Director of the Centre for Radiochemistry Research at The University of Manchester. Prof Liddle has launched a project called CAMERA – Chemistry at Manchester Explains Research Advances – which is a series of films on YouTube looking at the groundbreaking science that Manchester researchers are tackling. He was also one of the Periodic Videos team awarded the IChemE Petronas award for excellence in education and training in 2008 for a series of videos from the University of Nottingham presented on YouTube, which feature educational vignettes on the periodic table.

Talk begins at 6.30pm prompt at the Vale Inn, Adlington Road, Bollington
All welcome, no charge. Arrive early to be sure of a seat.

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Investigating poisoning

Monday 11 June 2018
Dr Ian Watson will give a presentation on laboratory support in poisoning, from a clinical toxicology perspective. This will cover an historical perspective, the analytical methods and examples of cases. Dr Watson is now retired, but was Clinical Director at Aintree Hospital for Pathology.

Talk begins 6.30pm prompt at the Vale Inn, Adlington Road, Bollington. All welcome, no charge. Arrive early to be sure of a seat.

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Made to be measured: The revolutions in analytical science for the real-time analysis of the human body

Monday 8 October 2018

Analytical science has made an enormous impact on the understanding of the biological and chemical processes within the human body.

This has been achieved via the application of a vast range of techniques.

However, many of these approaches require off‐line analysis, where samples are taken from a subject, transported to a laboratory, prepared and then analysed.

A vision for the future would remove the need to take a sample and analysis would be carried out on an individual in real time, to provide an immediate measurement of the level of an analyte or analytes.

This presentation will describe some of the most exciting developments in real-time measurement of the human body. From cancer diagnosis by mass spectrometry to real-time monitoring of key clinical analytes using smartphone-based devices, this incredibly exciting science will be described.

However, this does raise a final question. Will we be making everybody a home analytical scientist and what could be the implications?

Talk by Dr Tony Bristow, Astrazena
Talk begins 6.30pm prompt at the Vale Inn, Adlington Road, Bollington. All welcome, no charge. Arrive early to be sure of a seat.

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