The following news items will give you an idea as to the range of activities EMLab is engaged in.
CfAM joins CAF and is renamed to EMLab
On 1st October 2013, CfAM joined the Chemical Analysis Facility and was renamed the Electron Microscopy Laboratory. We recently had the opportunity of meeting CAF's technical staff, having a tour of their facilities, and showing them the microscopes. We look forward to working with our new colleagues.
Pictured from L to R are: Peter Harris (EMLab), Yan Gao (CAF Chemistry-G), James Magee (School Chief Technician), Matthew Spink (EMLab), Sherrie Foo (EMLab), Chris Collins (Director of CAF), Martin Reeves (CAF Harbourne), Radoslaw Kowalczyk (CAF Chemistry-G) and Barbora Maralikova (CAF Harbourne).
EMLab image on journal cover
A scanning electron microscope image taken in the EMLab features on the cover of the December 2013 issue of the journal "Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology". The image was recorded by Sakthivel Vaiyapuri of the School of Biological Sciences, working with former EMLab microscopist Chris Stain. Platelets are small, circulating blood cells that play major roles in the maintenance of haemostasis and thrombosis. The image shows a human platelet in the initial stage of spreading on a fibrinogen coated cover-glass with extending filopodia. The research is described in the following paper: "Tangeretin Regulates Platelet Function Through Inhibition of Phosphoinositide 3-Kinase and Cyclic Nucleotide Signaling / Significance", Sakthivel Vaiyapuri et al.
Arterioscler. Thromb. Vasc. Biol. 2013;33:2740-2749.
First EM Lab workshop
The first of this term's electron microscopy workshops was held on 30th October and was attended by 27 potential users, a record number. After a presentation by Peter Harris, the participants were given a tour of the facilities, and had the opportunity to discuss their specific projects with EM Lab staff. There are 4 further workshops, the details of which can be found here:
Short term science mission in CfAM
Associate Professor Evgeni Ivanov from Bulgaria is on a short term science mission using CfAM facilities and assistance. This is part of the COST FA0904 programme looking at polyproprylene nanocomposistes in the area of food packaging.
CfAM sets the questions
Having won the last SCR Quiz, it was CfAM's turn to set the questions for the Summer Quiz held on Thursday 27th June. This time the prize went to "Let's get quizzical", captained by Alistair Grandison, pictured, while the wooden spoon went to "We thought it was a wine-tasting night" featuring ex-CfAM administrator Linda Holland. Part of the quiz involved trying to identify common objects from micrographs taken on CfAM's optical microscope. If you would like to have a go at this (with a slightly modified set of pictures), click Click here for the images. For answers click here
CfAM Director presents keynote lectures at International Conference on Regeneration Medicine
The CfAM Director, Professor Geoffrey Mitchell has presented two keynote lectures at international conferenceson Regenerative Medicine in the last two weeks. The first was the International Seminar on Biomaterials & Regenerative Medicine-BioReMed'2013 which was held in Iasi, Romania.
The second was ICTE 2013, the third ECCOMAS International Conference in Tissue Engineering held in Leiria Portugal. Professor Mitchell delivered his invited lectures on 'The scope for electrospinning in tissue engineering'. The latter conference also saw Dr Che Connon and members of his research team describing their recent work in the field of tissue engineering with some excellent examples of the use of CfAM Facilities.
Tissue engineering (TE) is a recent, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary field experiencing intense development in the past few years. It involves biology, engineering and material science methods by providing suitable biochemical and physiochemical factors towards the development of biological substitutes to restore, maintain, or improve tissue functions.
Imaging and analysis of ancient gold beads
CfAM has contributed to research into some of Britain's earliest gold ornaments. The artefacts were discovered by Wessex Archaeology at a site in Kingsmead Quarry, near Windsor. Excavations at the site have recently revealed a rare 'Beaker' burial of 'Copper Age' date (2500-2200 BC), and it was inside this burial that the five tubular beads were discovered. The beads were examined in CfAM's state-of-the-art Quanta scanning electron microscope by Peter Harris and Stuart Black from the Department of Archaeology. Images of the beads revealed details of fine stitching holes and scored lines, while elemental analysis using the X-ray spectrometer attached to the microscope showed that the beads were about 95% gold and 5% silver. The picture shows a photograph of the beads together with one of the SEM images of a tiny perforation.
CfAM welcomes Anitha from India
We are pleased to welcome Anitha Nagarajan from India. Anitha has valuable experience from her Masters in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Whilst at CfAM Anitha will be using scanning and transmission electron microscopy to investigate electrospun fibres of block co polymers.
CfAM images displayed alongside the works of art for Science week
Imagining Science is a science-themed art collaboration by three scientist-artists; Imogen Smith (Reading, UK), Sally Hunter (Cambridge, UK), and Michelle Anderst (Seattle, USA). It investigates how science and art explore the world around us, and how imaginative thinking and collaboration contribute to both fields. An exhibition was held for the Reading Science week in the Central Gallery on Saturday March 23rd 2013.
Dr Imogen Smith from Pharmacy organised this.
Professor Mitchell, CfAM Director, said 'it was great to have some of the fabulous images taken using CfAM powerful microscopes alongside the works of art from artists such as Imogen.
The CfAM Quiz which was displayed on the large screen proved a popular attraction in which participants were asked to name the everyday objects which were used to create the high magnification images taken using a scanning electron microscope.
The major set of images were a series taken of a small flower at a wide range of magnifications , giving very different view of the same object, illustrating one of the major strengths of scanning electron microscopy.
CfAM work features in a new book titled 'Ecosustainable Polymer Nanomaterials for Food Packaging Innovative Solutions, Characterization Needs, Safety and Environmental Issues'
Edited by Clara Silvestre, Sossio Cimmino To Be Published 18th January 2013 by CRC Press.
This new book contains a chapter prepared by Professor Geoffrey Mitchell, Director of CfAM titled 'Characterization of Safe Nanostructured Polymeric Materials' which describes work performed in CfAM using the powerful electron microscopes located in the Centre.
The book in large part describes work which was performed as part of the EU Napolynet programme. Recent work has been performed as part of the COST FA0904 Action on Eco-sustainable Food Packaging Based on Polymer Nanomaterials.
For more details on this work please contact the Director, Professor Mitchell
CfAM team triumphs in SCR quiz
A team of present and former members of CfAM won first prize in the Senior Common Room quiz on 28th November. Chris Stain, Matthew Spink, Peter Harris and Robert Olley secured a comfortable victory over nine other teams from across the University, with a score of 119 points out of a possible 150. The star performer was undoubtedly Robert, who displayed a remarkable depth of knowledge across a wide range of subjects from music to gardening. The triumphant team is pictured holding their bottles of champagne and the magnificent trophy.
New member of staff
We are very pleased to welcome Matthew Spink to the CfAM team. Matthew is a biologist with extensive experience of scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and of the associated specimen preparation techniques. He is currently familiarising himself with CfAM's facilities, and we anticipate that he will make an important contribution to the services we provide to the University and to external clients. Matthew is based in Room 1 in CfAM.
International Visitors in CfAM
CfAM has a strong international strand for the next few months with visitors from the University of West Indies, Professor Upindranath Singh and from University of the United Arab Emirates, Professor Mohammed Alazab Alnaqbi.
Professor Singh is an expert in liquid crystals and has been a regular visitor to the University working with Dr Davis and Professor Mitchell.
On this occasion he is taking his sabbatical leave at Reading in CfAM to learn more about electrospinning and use the technology to prepare metallic nanowires.
Professor Alazab Alnaqbi is based in Chemistry at the University of UAE and is interested in sustainable materials and developing new applications of existing polymer based systems. He is using electrospinning to prepare nanoscale fibres of polymers down to 100-200nm.
CfAM Director leads Electrospun International Conference
Professor Mitchell, CfAM Director is the Conference Chair for the International Conference on Electrospinning: Principles, Practice and Possibilities 2013' to be held at the Institute of Physics in London on 5/6 December 2013. This is the third conference held in this series which Professor Mitchell and Dr Davis initiated in 2010
CfAM Microscopist post
I am pleased to announce there is an opportunity for a microscopist to join the CfAM Team
The details are available at http://www.jobs.ac.uk/job/AFC364/microscopist/
Please note that all applications must be made via the University of Reading website
CfAM's analytical TEM goes digital
A new digital camera has recently been fitted to CfAM's CM20 transmission electron microscope. The 4 megapixel AMT camera greatly simplifies the recording of images, and enables measurements and other operations to be carried out "live". The camera has a higher sensitivity than photographic film, enabling images to be recorded at low electron intensities. This is particularly useful for beam- sensitive materials such as certain polymers. Valeria Castelletto, pictured, was one of the first to use the new camera. "It's really good," she commented, "it is very convenient to use and makes life a lot easier".
CfAM image to appear on the Journal of Biological Chemistry front cover
This CfAM image will shortly be published as the cover picture on the latest edition of The Journal of Biological Chemistry. It will accompany a paper by Dr Sakthivel Vaiyapuri of the Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research (ICMR) entitled Rhinocetin, a Venom-derived Integrin-specific Antagonist Inhibits Collagen Induced Platelet and Endothelial Cell Functions. This paper outlines work done at Reading into the effects of snake venom on blood platelets. The image shows a blood platelet (the smallest of the blood cells), and was imaged in CfAM by Dr Chris Stain as part of the work carried out by Dr Vaiyapuri at the ICMR.
Widening Participation with CfAM
On 11th July CfAM welcomed 47 year 12 students from schools across the south of England. The students were attending a Summer school as part of the University's Widening Participation programme, aimed at those who do not have a family background of higher education. They were given a presentation on electron microscopy, a tour of the Centre and a demonstration of scanning electron microscopy. At the end of the demonstration, one of the students was heard to remark "That's the coolest machine I've ever seen!".
Professor Ahmed El-Hadi from the Department of Physics Faculty of Applied Science at Umm al-Qura University in Makkah, Saudi Arabia is spending June working in CFAM at the University of Reading with the Director, Professor Geoffrey Mitchell. The photograph shows Professor Ahmed El-Hadi and Professor Mitchell in the Electrospinning Facility in CfAM, which is being used to generate nanofibres of biodegradable polymers. These fibres are 100 times finer than a typical human hair. These nanofibres are so fine they cannot be seen by the naked eye. These can only be seen using the powerful scanning electron microscopes in CfAM. They have applications in regenerative medicine, filtration, biomedical devices and high performance polymer composites. The research forms part of the electrospinning at Reading with Dr Fred Davis (Chemistry)
Analytical laboratory class
For the past year or so, Dr Veluz Hart Prieto and colleagues from the Department of Chemistry have been developing a short laboratory course in analytical science. The aim of the course will be to give scientists working in industry experience of the latest analytical techniques available here at Reading. CfAM recently participated in a pilot of the module, attended by three scientists from the pharmaceutical industry. The photo shows CfAM's Chris Stain explaining the operation of the FEI Quanta scanning electron microscope. The three participants seemed to thoroughly enjoy their time at Reading, and it is hoped that the success of the pilot will lead to the permanent establishment of this course as a service to industry.
CfAM collaboration programme to reduce food wastage
CfAM is hosting a Short Term Scientific Mission as part of the COST FA0904 programme on Eco-sustainable Food Packaging Based on Polymer Nanomaterials. The photo shows Dr Marilena Pezzuto from the Instituto di Chimica e Tecnologia dei Polimeri of the CNR in Pozzuoli (Naples) http://www.ictp.cnr.it/ who is undertaking the mission to use the facilities in CfAM. In particular, Marilena is studying the dispersion of nano-clays in isotactic polypropylene to develop food packaging materials with restricted permeability to oxygen to reduce food wastage during storage. We are able to image the nano clay platelets in the polymer matrix by preparing ultrathin samples using the ultramicrotome preparation laboratory. The images are obtained using transmission electron microscopy; the clay contains elements of higher atomic number than the carbon and hydrogen of the polymer and provides contrast through absorption.
This programme is part of a long standing collaboration between the Director of CfAM, Professor Mitchell and the Instituto di Chimica e Tecnologia dei Polimeri of the CNR in Pozzuoli (Naples) on polymer structure and a number of researchers from Pozzuoli have spent time in Reading studying polymer morphology. Professor Mitchell said 'it is great to be part of a European-wide programme looking to reduce food wastage by the development of safe nanostructured polymers for food packaging and training the next generation of young European Scientists'. Dr Pezzuto said "I have spent two weeks in CfAM (University of Reading) and had a good opportunity to improve my knowledge on specimen preparation using the ultramicrotome equipment for morphological characterization of polymeric materials by electronic microscope, thanks for the good suggestions and big experience of CfAM stuff. I would also like thank the Cost Action FA0904 (www.costfa0904.eu) for giving me this possibility."
CfAM Director at SLAC
Professor Geoffrey Mitchell, Director of CfAM gave a lecture in the Photon Science Series at SLAC, the Stanford Accelerator Centre in California USA titled 'Directing polymers using nanoparticles'. The lecture showed recent work carried in CfAM using advanced microscopy techniques. Professor Mitchell also has the opportunity to visit the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory where Reading Alumni Dr John Pople heads up the SAXS beamline.
Prof Maria Tomoaia-Cotisel visits CfAM
The photograph shows Professor Geoffrey Mitchell, Director of CfAM with Professor Dr. Maria Tomoaia-Cotisel a Technical Adviser for the EU FP7 Programme. Professor Dr. Maria Tomoaia-Cotisel is also the Head of Physical Chemistry at Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Professor Mitchell said 'We were delighted to show Professor Tomoaia-Cotisel the comprehensive facilities available in CfAM, in particular the Cryo-SEM instrumentation which has been used in the EU NanoCelluComp Project. It was very interesting to hear about the recently developed Excellency Research (CEEX) Consortium at Babes-Bolyai University which houses advanced imaging facilities.
CfAM hosts Romanian visitor
CfAM is hosting a month long visit of Dr Raluca Dumitru from the "Petru Poni" Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry in Iasi in Romania. The Institute is the leading institute in Romania for polymer science and forms part of the Romanian Academy of Sciences. Dr Dumitru's visit is part of a EU COST programme FA0904 on Eco-sustainable food packaging based on polymer nanomaterials . Professor Mitchell, Director of CfAM said ' We are pleased that we can bring the powerful facilities available in CfAM to bear on this international programme which impacts on our everyday life as well as its connection with the University's programme on Climate Change Mitigation and carbon reduction'.
CfAM Visitor wins Award
Professor Mahadevappa Y. Kariduraganavar at Karnatak University, in India has been awarded the Sir CV Raman Award in recognition of his outstanding work on polymers. Professor Kariduraganavar was a recent visitor to the Centre for Advanced Microscopy. Professor Mitchell, Director of CfAM said 'We have a continuing collaboration with Professor Kariduraganavar using microscopy to understand polymer membranes and we are very pleased that his work has been recognised with this award'
CfAM User awarded 2012 McBain Medal
Dr Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy, Reader in Pharmaceutical Materials at Reading's School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, has won the 2012 McBain Medal for his 'visionary' work in the field of colloid, polymer and interface science. Dr Khutoryanskiy whose research is focused on novel materials which could provide new ways of administering vital drugs, makes extensive use of the CFAM Facilities. The Director of CfAM, Professor Geoffrey Mitchell, said 'Dr Khutoryanskiy is a major user of CfAM facilities including both transmission and scanning electron microscopy and we are delighted to hear of his award'.
CfAM welcomes Professor Al Ammar
CfAM were pleased to host a four day visit from Professor Khalid Al Ammar of Babylon University in Iraq. The photograph shows the Director, Professor Geoffrey Mitchell describing the different techniques available on the powerful Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope in CfAM to Professor Al Ammar. Professor Al Ammar, who is a former student at Reading, said 'It is wonderful to be back in Reading, everyone has been most welcoming and I look forward to building substantial research collaborations between our two Universities'.
Director to present "Imaging for Life Science Research" seminar
The Director of CfAM, Professor Geoffrey Mitchell will present a seminar titled 'Imaging for Life Science Research' in Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research at the University of Reading. The seminar will be held on Monday 16 January at 1pm in the Seminar Room in the Hopkins Building.
Dust, Glaciers and Climate Change
The Director of CfAM, Professor Geoffrey Mitchell and Dr Maria Shahgedanova in the Earth System Science Group, in the School of Human and Environmental Sciences have been successful in their application for a UROP Placement in the summer of 2012. This provides an opportunity for an undergraduate to undertake a short research project before the start of their final year.
The Project is titled 'Investigating mineral dust deposited on glaciers using advanced microscopy'. This project is focused on the impacts of dust on glaciated environments and brings together two major issues that are in the focus of climate change research: glacier shrinkage and impacts of mineral aerosol (dust) on the climate system. Dust deposited on glaciers intensifies their melting and adds nutrients to water. Analysis of the dust will help evaluate the impact on glaciated environments and its origin and atmospheric pathway.
Image: © Wrangel