The joys (and sorrows) of interdisciplinary research:
Nature's secrets at solid-fluid interfaces
Susan L.S. Stipp* and the NanoGeoScience Research Group
Nano-Science Center, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
We use nanotechniques to understand the interactions between natural solids and fluids (water, oil, air, CO2, etc.) and then apply the new knowledge to solve society's challenges. Some examples are: ensuring clean water, storing waste safely, converting CO2 to mineral form to make it stable for millennia, squeezing more oil from spent reservoirs and understanding the mysteries of biomineralisation. Sometimes we contribute insight into the risks of volcanic ash and offer interpretations for the Mars missions. Our work combines experiment and theory, profiting from input by physicists, chemists, mineralogists, geoscientists, engineers and mathematicians.
Theory/experiment collaboration in surface studies: spintronics, catalysis and crystal growth
'Surfaces, Interfaces and Thin Films Group', Physics, University of Warwick
The interface between theoretical and experimental studies has become a little more blurry thanks to the rise of “computer experiments”. Molecular dynamics (MD), density functional theory (DFT) and Monte Carlo (MC) methods can give valuable insights into experimental systems and are increasingly accessible to non-specialists thanks to efficient, robust codes and cheaper computing power. I will give a couple of examples DFT / experiment work in the fields of spintronic materials and catalysis. Crystal growth on surfaces (heteroepitaxy) is another important topic where DFT, MC and MD methods can bridge the gap between atomistic behaviour and observations: I will discuss our work on graphene.
Diamonds for Sensing: Electrochemical and Computational Approaches to Biomolecule Detection
Jennifer R. Webb 1,2*, Mark E. Newton 3, Rebecca Notman 2 and Julie V. Macpherson 2
1. MOAC Doctoral Training Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
2. Department of Chemistry, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
3. Department of Physics, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.
Diamond exhibits many exceptional chemical, mechanical and electrical properties that make it ideally suited for use in biosensing devices. In particular, the diamond surface can be tailored with specific functional groups to enhance its detection capability. Our research employs computational (finite-element, molecular dynamics) and experimental (microscopy, electrochemical) techniques to explore how the properties of diamond can be fully exploited in biosensing technologies. We discuss key results of two interdisciplinary projects: (1) the manipulation of the diamond surface termination, crystal orientation and boron concentration for selective electrochemical detection, and (2) the development of a novel single crystal diamond pore biosensor.