Friday 16 December 2016

Prediction of biological sensors appearance with ARIMA models as a tool for Integrated Pest Management protocols.

Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine, 23, 2016, 129-137
DOI: 10.5604/12321966.1196868

Powdery mildew caused by Uncinula necator and Downy mildew produced by Plasmopara viticola are the most common diseases in the North-West Spain vineyards. Knowledge of airborne spore concentrations could be a useful tool in the Integrated Pest Management protocols in order to reduce the number of pesticide treatments, applied only when there is a real risk of infection.The study was carried out in a vineyard of the D. O. Ribeiro, in the North-West Spain, during the grapevine active period 2004-2012. A Hirts-type volumetric spore-trap was used for the aerobiological monitoring.During the study period the annual total U. necator spores amount ranged from the 578 spores registered in 2007 to the 4,145 spores sampled during 2008. The highest annual total P. viticola spores quantity was observed in 2010 (1,548 spores) and the lowest in 2005 (210 spores). In order to forecast the concentration of fungal spores, ARIMA models were elaborated.The most accurate models were an ARIMA (3.1.3) for U. necator and (1.0.3) for P. viticola. The possibility to forecast the spore presence 72 hours in advance open an important horizon for optimizing the organization of the harvest processes in the vineyard.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Fraxinus pollen and allergen concentrations in Ourense (South-western Europe)

Environmental Research, 147, 2016, 241–248

In temperate zones of North-Central Europe the sensitization to ash pollen is a recognized problem, also extended to the Northern areas of the Mediterranean basin. Some observations in Switzerland suggest that ash pollen season could be as important as birch pollen period. The allergenic significance of this pollen has been poorly studied in Southern Europe as the amounts of ash pollen are low. Due to the high degree of family relationship with the olive pollen major allergen (backed by a sequence identity of 88%), the Fraxinus pollen could be a significant cause of early respiratory allergy in sensitized people to olive pollen as consequence of cross-reactivity processes. Ash tree flowers in the Northwestern Spain during the winter months. The atmospheric presence of Ole e 1–like proteins (which could be related with the Fra a 1 presence) can be accurately detected using Ole e 1 antibodies. The correlation analysis showed high Spearman correlation coefficients between pollen content and rainfall (R2=−0.333, p<0.01) or allergen concentration and maximum temperature (R2=−0.271, p<0.01). In addiction CCA analysis showed not significant differences (p<0.05) between the component 1 and 2 variables. PCFA analysis plots showed that the allergen concentrations are related to the presence of the Fraxinus pollen in the air, facilitating the wind speed its submicronic allergen proteins dispersion. In order to forecast the Fraxinus allergy risk periods, two regression equations were developed with Adjusted R2 values around 0.48–0.49. The t-test for dependent samples shows no significant differences between the observed data and the estimated by the equations. The combination of the airborne pollen content and the allergen quantification must be assessed in the epidemiologic study of allergic respiratory diseases.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Salud Ambiental de los parques españoles: Aproximación al potencial alergénico de espacios verdes urbanos.

Los parques urbanos son elementos de la infraestructura verde que deben contribuir a mejorar la calidad de vida y el bienestar ciudadano. En este trabajo se presentan los resultados de la aplicación de un novedoso índice que estima la alergenicidad potencial de las zonas verdes urbanas. Este índice, que contempla parámetros biológicos y biométricos intrínsecos a las especies arbóreas existentes en los parques, genera un resultado cuyo valor está comprendido entre 0 y 1 según el potencial alergénico del parque sea nulo o de riesgo alto para la población. En una primera fase el índice se ha aplicado a parques de diferente tipología, diseño, tamaño, riqueza específica y biodiversidad ubicados en 20 ciudades españolas. Los resultados han mostrado que algunos de los parques estudiados registran un valor de índice superior a 0.30, umbral suficiente para causar síntomas de alergia a la población expuesta, y por tanto, de riesgo moderado o alto. Por el contrario, en la mayoría de los parques se obtuvo un valor inferior a este umbral. También es posible conocer cuáles son las especies que más contribuyen al valor resultante, que son aquellas con estrategia de polinización anemófila, periodos de oración extensos y alta alergenicidad referenciada. Estos requisitos los cumplen todas las especies de las familias Betuláceas, Cupresáceas y Moráceas, y en menor extensión, Oleáceas y Platanáceas. Puede concluirse que el desarrollo de un índice de estimación de alergenicidad de espacios verdes urbanos constituye una herramienta de utilidad para minimizar el impacto de la alergia polínica en la población.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Assessment of the Olea pollen and its major allergen Ole e 1 concentrations in the bioearosol of two biogeographical areas

Atmospheric Environment, 145, 2016, 264–271

The Olea pollen is currently an important allergy source. In some regions of Southern Spain, olive pollen is the main cause of allergic sensitization exceeding 40% of the sensitized individuals. Due to the scarce presence of olive trees in Northern Spain, limited to some cultivated fields in the South of the Galicia region where they also grow wild, only 8% of the sensitized individuals showed positive results for Olea pollen. The aim of the paper was to assess the behaviour pattern of the Olea pollen and its aeroallergens in the atmosphere, as this information could help us to improve the understanding and prevention of clinical symptoms.

Airborne Olea pollen and Ole e 1 allergens were quantified in Cartagena (South-eastern Spain) and Ourense (North-western Spain). A volumetric pollen trap and a Burkard Cyclone sampler were used for pollen and allergen quantification.

The Olea flowering took place in April or May in both biometeorological sampling areas. The higher concentrations were registered in the Southern area of Spain, for both pollen and Ole e 1, with values 8 times higher for pollen concentrations and 40 times higher for allergens. An alternate bearing pattern could be observed, characterized by years with high pollen values and low allergen concentrations and vice versa. Moreover, during some flowering seasons the allergen concentrations did not correspond to the atmospheric pollen values. Variations in weather conditions or Long Distance Transport (LDT) processes could explain the discordance. The back trajectory analysis shows that the most important contributions of pollen and allergens in the atmosphere are coincident with air masses passing through potential source areas. The exposure to olive pollen may not be synonym of antigen exposure.

Monday 12 December 2016

Approach of different properties of alkylammonium surfactants using artificial intelligence and response surface methodology

Tenside, Surfactants, Detergents

Response surface methodology (RSM) and artificial neural networks (ANNs) architectures to predict the density, speed of sound, kinematic viscosity, and surface tension of aqueous solutions were developed. All models implemented using the root mean square error (RMSE) for training and validation phase were evaluated. The ANN models implemented show good values of R2 (upper than 0.974) and low errors in terms of average percentage deviation (APD) (lower than 2.92%). Nevertheless, RSM models present low APD values for density and speed of sound prediction (lower than 0.31%) and higher APD values around 5.18% for kinematic viscosity and 14.73% for surface tension. The results show that the different individual artificial neural networks implemented are a useful tool to predict the density, speed of sound, kinematic viscosity, and surface tension with reasonably accuracy.

Sunday 11 December 2016

Changes on the Phytoavailability of Nutrients in a Mine Soil Reclaimed with Compost and Biochar

Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 2016, 227:453
DOI: 10.1007/s11270-016-3155-x

Mine soils often contain high levels of metals that produce serious environmental problems and poor fertility conditions that limit their reclamation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of a compost and biochar amendment on the nutrient phytoavailability in a mine soil from the depleted copper mine of Touro (Spain). For this purpose, a greenhouse experiment was carried out amending the mine soil with increasing proportions (20, 40, 80 and 100%) of the compost and biochar mixture and planting Brassica juncea plants. The results revealed that the mine soil had an extremely acid pH and low fertility conditions and was affected by copper contamination. The addition of compost and biochar to the mine soil increased soil pH values (from 2.7 to 8.7), total carbon (from undetectable values to 149 g kg−1) and total nitrogen (from undetectable values to 11,130 mg kg−1) contents and phytoavailable concentrations of K, Mg, Na and P and promoted plant growth, since B. juncea plants did not survive in the untreated mine soil. The application of amendment decreased the phytoavailable concentration of Al, Co, Cu, Fe and Ni in the soil, resulting in a reduction of copper toxicity. The use of compost and biochar as a soil amendment combined with B. juncea plants could be an efficient strategy for the reclamation of degraded soils with low fertility conditions.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Effect of chestnuts intake by Celta pigs on lipolytic, oxidative and fatty acid profile changes during ripening and vacuum-packed storage of Galician “chorizo”

Journal of Food Composition and Analysis

The effect of the inclusion of chestnuts in the finishing diet of Celta pig breed on the characteristics of Galician chorizo, a traditional dry-cured sausage, along the ripening process and vacuum-packed storage was studied. In general, no significant differences between diets (chestnut, mixed and concentrate diet) were obtained for weight losses, chemical composition, physico-chemical characteristics, and lipolytic and oxidative parameters. A significant effect of the diet was observed on some fatty acids from total and neutral lipids, obtaining lower contents of C18:2n-6 and C20:2n-6 and higher contents of C18:1n-9, C18:3n-3 and C20:4n-6 when chestnuts where included in the diet. In polar lipids, after dry-ripening, lower contents of C18:2n-6 and total polyunsaturated fatty acids and higher contents of C18:1n-9 and the sum of monounsaturated fatty acids were found in sausages from chestnut diet. Free fatty acids profile during vacuum-packed storage changed to a larger content of C16:0. The distinction between sausages was procured when a discriminant canonical analysis was performed for fatty acid contents.

Friday 9 December 2016

Evaluation of strategies for second generation bioethanol production from fast growing biomass Paulownia within a biorefinery scheme

Applied Energy

Fast-growing and short-rotation biomass is identified as glucan-rich feedstock to be used for bioenergy purposes. For the first time to our knowledge, fast growing biomass (Paulownia tomentosa) was evaluated for bioethanol production in a biorefinery scheme. For that, Paulownia wood was subjected to autohydrolysis pretreatment under severity (S0) conditions in the range of 3.31–5.16. The effect of this treatment on its fractionation was evaluated by means of hemicelluloses solubilization as hemicellulose-derived compounds in liquid phase and enzymatic hydrolysis of glucan (remained in the solid phase) into glucose. A xylose and xylooligosaccharides concentration of 17.5 g/L was obtained at S0 = 3.99 which corresponds to complete xylan solubilization. On the other hand, glucose yield of enzymatic hydrolysis increased up to reach 99% at S0 = 4.82. In addition, separate and simultaneous saccharification and fermentation assays (SHF and SSF) of autohydrolyzed Paulownia were compared for ethanol production. An increase of 47% in ethanol concentration was obtained by SHF in comparison with results achieved by SSF for Paulownia treated at S0 = 4.19. In SSF, Paulownia was successfully converted into ethanol (52.7 g/L which corresponded to 80% of ethanol yield) operating at 20% solid loadings and S0 = 4.72. Energy analysis of results obtained in this work showed that 83% of energy respect to raw material can be recovered considering the ethanol and the combustion of residual lignin. This work provides a feasible process for bioethanol production using fast growing specie which could enrich the feedstock needs for biofuels sector.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Manufacture and evaluation of xylooligosaccharides from corn stover as emerging prebiotic candidates for human health

LWT - Food Science and Technology

Corn stover samples were subjected to hydrothermal treatment in order to solubilize the hemicellulosic fraction, obtaining hemicellulose-derived saccharides with up to 11.7 g/L of xylooligosaccharides (XOS). Oligomers-containing liquors were nanofiltered by two-step membrane-based separation (discontinuous diafiltration and concentration) showing an increase in XOS concentration up to 21.94 g/L, purified by ion-exchange processing and freeze-dried, obtaining final products with up to 89% of purity. The presence of both substituted (with 4-O-methyl-glucuronic acid or acetyl substituents) and unsubstituted oligosaccharides, mainly made up of xylose and with a degree of polymerization in the range of 5–29, was observed in the purified products. The effects of the various XOS substrates on the metabolic activity and on the dynamics of the microbial populations were studied in media inoculated with human fecal sample. Short chain fatty acids generation and changes in the three selected bacterial groups (Bifidobacterium genus, Lactobacillus−Enterococcus and Bacteroides−Prevotella group) confirm the suitability of this work to obtain XOS fractions with potential functional properties for human health.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Effect of long-term frozen storage on the rheological properties of pressurized glucomannan gels

Food Hydrocolloids

Several weakly deacetylated glucomannan gels (pH = 9.1), at a concentration of 5 g/100 mL, were subjected to high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) at 0, 100, 200, 400 and 600 MPa. They were frozen and stored at −20 °C for two years to study the influence of long-term frozen storage on the rheological properties of pressurized samples (FP100, FP200, FP400, FP600) compared with a frozen unpressurized control (FP0) and an unfrozen unpressurized control (P0). In unpressurized gels, frozen storage reduced stress (σmax) and strain (γmax) amplitudes while forming a more solid-like network (FP0 vs P0). Gel FP0 maintained the rubber-like response from temperature (T) > 70 °C as in P0. HHP reduced loss of conformational stability and enhanced cohesiveness in FP100−FP600 vs FP0. Particularly, 400 MPa improved the degree of connectivity in the glucomannan (GM) network producing a better thermoset response at T > 70 °C (FP400).

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Job opportunity: Dean of the College of Science - Purdue University College of Science

College of Science
Mathematical Sciences Building 
150 N. University Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907–2067


Purdue University invites applications and nominations for the position of Frederick L Hovde Dean of the College of Science.

The Purdue University College of Science is made up of seven departments: Biological Sciences; Chemistry; Computer Science; Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; Mathematics; Physics and Astronomy; and Statistics. In addition, there are numerous interdisciplinary programs and centers. The College has 326 faculty, 325 staff, and enrolls approximately 3600 undergraduate students, 1200 graduate students and 110 postdoctoral researchers. The departments in the College have a long history of excellence in research and education. Beyond the College, Purdue’s strengths in Engineering, Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, and the Health and Human Sciences contribute to a robust research and educational environment. Further information on the College of Science is available on the website at:

The Dean’s primary role is to provide exceptional scientific vision and leadership in the College, and to foster a culture of academic excellence, freedom of expression, and inclusiveness. In addition the Dean will support the College’s interdisciplinary and core missions of learning, discovery, and engagement both internally and externally to the broad community of stakeholders with which the College engages. The Dean reports directly to the Provost, is a member of the Academic Deans’ Council and works with the College’s department heads, faculty and staff to assure that learning and research activities of the highest level of excellence flourish at all levels.

As chief academic and administrative officer of the College, the Dean actively represents the College to a variety of constituencies internal and external to the University. The successful candidate will:

  • have a preeminent scientific record commensurate with the faculty in the College of Science and with the caliber of scholars the College expects to attract to Purdue;
  • be an excellent administrator with a proven record of providing scientific vision and leadership and the ability to set priorities, allocate resources, and achieve specific goals;
  • be an exceptional communicator;
  • have a deep commitment to undergraduate and graduate education;
  • be an effective fundraiser who can secure flexible support for the College;
  • have substantial experience with the national research funding environment;
  • be able to connect with all the constituencies served by the University and be able to articulate and advocate for the goals of the College;
  • have an effective voice for and demonstrated commitment to cultural and ethnic diversity and gender equality.

Qualified candidates will have credentials appropriate for a tenured full professorship and demonstrated excellence in or potential for higher education administration.
Established in 1869, Purdue is Indiana’s land-grant university, a comprehensive educational and research institution which is a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities (AAU). The West Lafayette Campus, located one hour north of Indianapolis and two hours south of downtown Chicago, has ten colleges with an enrollment of ~40,000 students.

Nominations and applications will be accepted until the position is filled. For best consideration, applications should be received by Thursday, January 5, 2017. Applications should include a cover letter that addresses the above criteria and a full CV, and should be sent to Dean Jay Akridge, Chair, College of Science Dean Search Committee, College of Agriculture, 615 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2053. Electronic submission is preferred and should be sent to 

Screening of applicants will begin on January 6, 2017 and will continue until the position is filled. A background check will be required for employment in this position.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer. Purdue University is committed to maintaining a community which recognizes and values the inherent worth and dignity of every person. In pursuit of its goal of academic excellence, the University seeks to develop and nurture diversity. All qualified applicants for employment will receive consideration without regard to race, religion, color, sex, national origin or ancestry, genetic information, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability or status as a veteran.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Assessment of polar phenolic compounds of virgin olive oil by NIR and mid-IR spectroscopy and their impact on quality

European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology
DOI: 10.1002/ejlt.201600099

Chemometric analyses of near- (NIR) and middle-infrared (mid-IR) spectroscopy spectral data (12 500–4000 cm−1 and 4000–400 cm−1) by Partial Least Square (PLS) regression combined with analytical determination of polar phenolic compounds measured by HPLC in different varieties, geographical origin and marketplace categories olive oils—Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) “Montes de Toledo”; Galician; high quality extra virgin (“Gourmet”/“Premium”); and commercial extra virgin and olive oils—were used to generate calibration and validation models in order to be able to predict the content and profile of these minor compounds, and thereby the quality of the product. Satisfactory multivariate test set validation algorithms were obtained for virgin olive oil (VOO)'s total polar phenolic (TPP) compounds (r = 0.91), hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol secoiridoid derivatives (HtyrSec, TyrSec; r = 0.91 and 0.92, respectively). Contrary to NIRS, the chemometric analysis of the mid-IR spectra gave no satisfactory validation models (r = 0.43, 0.54, and 0.66 for HtyrSec, TyrSec, and TPP), despite that the calibration algorithms gave even higher correlation than NIRS (r > 0.96 for all the polar phenolics studied).

The results establish that NIRS is a very useful technique that allows rapid screening of VOO samples to estimate polar phenolic profile, and thereby their quality and commercial grade. Furthermore, it may give real time information about olive oil composition during processing in order to automatically control technological parameters.

Friday 25 November 2016

Phosphorus removal from wastewater using mussel shell: Investigation on retention mechanisms

Ecological Engineering, 97, 2016, 558–566

Mussel shell is a carbonate-rich by-product that could be recycled in wastewater treatment. In this work, phosphorus removal from aqueous solutions was obtained in a series of batch and column experiments in the laboratory, using a calcined and a finely-ground (non-calcined) mussel shell. Phosphorus removal followed a Freundlich model at high contact times (72 h) and a Langmuir model at lower time (24 h). Phosphorus removal capacity increased with contact time and with P concentration in the solution, while desorption of the retained P was very low (<4%). Calcined mussel shell presented a higher retention capacity than the fine shell, which can be attributed to differences in mineralogy and composition. The process of P removal from aqueous solution showed features that are typical of chemical reactions rather than denoting adsorption; concretely, the percentage of P removed increased with initial P concentration in the solution, thus pointing at a relevant role of precipitation in P removal. The results corresponding to the fractionation of the P retained in the mussel shell after the experiments showed that both mechanisms, adsorption and precipitation, contributed to P removal.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Assessment of Trends in Stream Temperatures in the North of the Iberian Peninsula Using a Nonlinear Regression Model for the Period 1950–2013

River Res. Applic. 32: 1355–1364 (2016)
DOI: 10.1002/rra.2971

A nonlinear regression model was used to estimate mean daily stream water temperature in 11 rivers of the North of the Iberian Peninsula employing as the only predictor variable the air temperature. The weighted mean value of air temperature of a variable number of preceding days was used as a predictor variable.

To obtain the weight of air temperature of each preceding day, initially, we calculate the weight of air temperature of current day. For this, we have included in the model the air temperature of current day and the water temperature of preceding day—representative of long-term effects of air temperature on current water temperature. Subsequently, the weight of remaining days was calculated by a negative exponential function.

The weight of air temperature of current day ranges between 0.28 and 0.10, and it was correlated to length of river (R2 = 0.69) and to time of concentration (R2 = 0.66). This fact implies that the number of preceding days required to obtain a good estimation differs across the rivers. The results show that the mean root mean square error (RMSE) between observed and estimated water temperatures was 1.23 °C (±0.30 °C), employing a number of days so that the sum of their weights was 0.65. For the validation period, RMSE was 1.20 °C (±0.18 °C).

For the period 1986–2013, estimated temperature of water was 0.6 °C higher than that estimated for the period 1950–1986. This increase value is slightly lower than that observed in the air temperature (0.8 °C). On the other hand, during the period 1986–2013, water temperature showed a rate of increase of 0.16 °C/decade, similar to the increase of air temperature (0.15 °C/decade).

Thursday 17 November 2016

Job opportunity: University Lecturer of Earth Sciences - University of Cambridge

There is a rapidly growing community of materials scientists and Earth scientists who are using multi-dimensional imaging techniques, such as x-ray and electron tomography and time-resolved microscopy, coupled with advanced computational analysis and novel visualisation methods. These techniques are set to transform our understanding of natural and synthetic materials across a range of length scales, from tens of microns to the atomic scale. We are seeking candidates who can lead a research effort in this area, interact strongly with research groups in both Departments, and define the University as a world leader in multi-dimensional imaging techniques. This is a new post and is one of a number created under a major initiative by the School of the Physical Sciences to promote inter-disciplinary activity in the Departments of the School.

Applications are invited for the post of University Lecturer in Multi-Scale, Multi-Dimensional Imaging of Natural and Synthetic Materials.

The successful candidate will hold a PhD in Materials Science, Earth Sciences, Physics, Chemistry or a cognate subject, will have a track record of excellent research publications, and will be expected to lead and pursue a research programme of the highest standard. It is expected that their research programme will be firmly grounded in both Departments.

The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to the teaching programmes of both Departments at undergraduate and graduate level. (The total teaching load is expected to be no greater than that of colleagues appointed to single Departments.) They will contribute, as appropriate, to the academic administration of the Departments and the University.


(i) Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, 27 Charles Babbage Road, Cambridge, CB3 0FS. 

(ii) Department of Earth Sciences, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EQ.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Job opportunity: Faculty Position in Environmental Science and Engineering - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Faculty Position in Environmental Science and Engineering at the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

EPFL's School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC)invites appli¬cations for aFaculty position in the Institute of Environmental Engineering. Appointment at all levels (i.e. Tenure Track-, Associate-, and Full Professor) will be considered.

The Institute of Environmental Engineering currently covers a diverse portfolio ofresearch and teaching in (non-exhaustive list): climate change adaptation, biogeochemical cycles, cryosphere,hydrology, hydrodynamics, limnology, precipitation, water quality, bioremediation, ecotoxicology, air quality, renewable energy, city and landscape monitoring/sustainability, ecology, and ecosystem dynamics. These research themes are underpinned by technical innovations and developments in, for example:remote and in situsensing, fieldrobotics (water, land, air), numericalmodelling, as well as cutting-edge chemical, genomic, proteomic, and isotope analysis facilities.Our institute also hosts the newly established Swiss Polar Institute, which coordinates and supports research in Polar and other extreme environments, including the Alps.

In this context,we seek a candidate who can develop and lead aninternationally recognized research programand strengthen our curriculum within the broadly defined area of Environmental Science and Engineering, comple¬men¬ting and integrating with existing groups. The successful candidate will be committed to excellence in undergraduate/graduate-level teaching as well as supervision of PhD students and postdocs.

EPFL offersinternationally competitive start-up resources,salaries, and benefits.
With its main campus located in Lausanne, Switzerland, EPFL is a dynamically growing and well-funded institution fostering excellence and diversity. It has a highly international campus at an excep¬tionally attractive location boasting first-class experimental and computational infrastructure.As a technical university covering essentially the entire palette of engineering and science, EPFL offers a fertile environment for research collaboration between different disciplines. The EPFL environment is multi-lingual and multi-cultural, with English serving as a common interface.

To apply, please follow the application procedure on

The following documents are requested in PDF format: cover letter including a statement of motivation, curriculum vitae, publications list, statement of research and teaching interests as well as the names and addresses, including emails, of at least three references (may be contacted at a later stage).

Screening will start on February1st, 2017 and the search will continue until the positionis filled.
Further enquiries should be made to the Chair of the Search Committee:
ProfessorAnders Meibom
Director of the Environmental Engineering Institute
School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, EPFL-ENAC
For additional information on EPFL, please consult: or

EPFL aims to increase the presence of women amongst its faculty, and qualified female candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Monday 14 November 2016

Physico-chemical characterization and evaluation of bio-efficacies of black pepper essential oil encapsulated in hydroxypropyl-beta-cyclodextrin

Food Hydrocolloids

Encapsulation of essential oils with cyclodextrins can protect their active compounds from environmental conditions and improve their aqueous solubility, hence increasing their functional capabilities as additives. The purpose of this study was to characterize the physico-chemical properties and bio-efficacies, antioxidant and antibacterial activities, of the encap- sulated black pepper essential oil in hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HPβCD), in comparison with the major ingredient in the oil, β-caryophyllene. The difference in encapsulation efficiency of the pure compound and the black pepper oil results from the presence of other components in the black pepper oil such as limonene, δ-3-carene and pinene. Although the inclusion complexes increase their stability, they gave slightly lower antioxidant activity as a result of the HPβCD was blocking the functional groups of active compounds during reaction with DPPH radicals. Instead, after encapsulated in HPβCD, the antibacterial activity of black pepper oil was improved by 4 times against both S. aureus and E. coli.

Sunday 13 November 2016

Job opportunity: Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Ecology of River Connectivity - Karlstad University Department of Environmental and Life Sciences

The Faculty of Health Science and Technology has an opening for one full-time post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of Environmental and Life Sciences in the field of river connectivity ecology with focus on rehabilitation, management and development strategies.
The River Ecology and Management Research Group (NRRV), a research group within the Department of Environmental and Life Sciences at Karlstad University, conducts both basic and applied research in rivers, lakes and the surrounding landscape. The group is interested in the sustainable use of natural resources in watersheds, working for solutions to environmental problems that benefit both society and nature. Areas of research addressed by the research group include river connectivity and the effects of hydropower, aquatic-terrestrial interactions, winter ecology under global climate change, endangered species, conservation biology and social-ecological research relating to river regulation and recreational fishing (; Many research topics are conducted in collaboration with stakeholders from industry, administrative agencies, interest organizations and landowners as well as with the group’s extensive international research network. The group was recently selected as a ‘Strong Research Environment’ by Karlstad University, and has received directed funding to further develop the group’s research profile. This post-doctoral position is part of the strategy to develop the group, focusing on one of the core interests of the research group, and includes collaboration with group members.


The main duty of the position is to conduct research on river habitat connectivity. River connectivity is essential for most organisms inhabiting lotic environments, and especially so for organisms that migrate between different habitats to complete their life cycle, such as many fish species. Many rivers are modified by dams of different types, such as historical water mills and more recently, hydroelectric power plants. Dams disconnect river stretches and habitats, thereby reducing dispersal and migration possibilities for fish, with negative effects on individual success and populations. The post-doctoral candidate will be expected to evaluate measures to improve connectivity arising from dams in rivers. These may include evaluations concerning the function of fishways, the restoration of habitats, the design of environmental flows, or the effects of dam removal. Investigations will be based on empirical work in the field and/or the laboratory and may include studies of fish behaviour and hydraulics, habitat and hydraulic modelling, and other relevant methods aimed at the understanding of longitudinal habitat connectivity in regulated rivers.

The successful candidates will join a strong and motivated research team to carry out the following tasks:
  • Conducting high quality research and producing results
  • Coordinating research projects and delivering outputs
  • Providing guidance to PhD and MSc students
  • Disseminating results through scientific publication
  • Assisting in teaching duties
  • Participate in the organization of scientific conferences and workshops


To be eligible for the position, applicants are required to hold a PhD (or to be completed by March 1, 2017) in ecology or related fields. The candidate must have completed the degree no more than three years before the last date for applications unless special grounds exist.

Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are required.

Assessment grounds

We are searching for a highly motivated candidate with experience in the fields of fish ecology, river rehabilitation techniques, and modelling. In the assessment procedure, emphasis will be placed on the applicant's scientific experience in fish behavioural ecology, river habitats and ecosystems, telemetry and modelling techniques, as well as experimental field and lab studies. Special attention will be given to research skills, as demonstrated by the quality of the applicant’s PhD thesis and other scientific merits. The applicant should have well documented abilities in general and behavioural ecology, experimental design, and knowledge of statistical and modelling tools (such as R). Additionally, interpersonal skills facilitating rapid integration of the postdoctoral research fellow into the research group are important.

Karlstad University values personal qualities such as the ability to cooperate and establish good relations with colleagues, as well as the ability to work independently and to take initiatives. Karlstad University is an equal opportunity employer.

The application should include
  • Personal letter describing the applicant and her/his research interests in relation to the announced position
  • CV with verified copies of degrees, scertificates, etc.
  • List of completed courses with grades and dates
  • Copy of degree projects and other relevant publications or a link to elecronic versions
  • Any other documents submitted for consideration
  • Reference contact information (at least two) or letter of reference

Application should be submitted electronically via Karlstad University´s web-based recruitment tool MyNetwork with uploaded attachments. 

Documents that cannot be sent electronically, should be sent to
Karlstads universitet, Registrator, 651 88 Karlstad, Sweden, state REK2016/196.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Job opportunity: Researcher in Geobiosphere Science - Lund University, Department of Physical Geograhy and Ecosystem Science

The appointee will investigate the role of biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks mediated by vegetation and carbon cycle responses to the climate evolution of the geological past. Model simulations and related data processing, analysis, and visualisation will be performed based on the EC-EARTH Earth system model. High-performance computing (HPC) platforms will be employed. Findings will contribute to the CMIP6 projects LUMIP (analyses of land use change and climate) and PMIP (palaeoclimate analyses), the latter in in collaboration with the Bert Bolin Centre for Climate Research (BCCR) at Stockholm University.

The research will be carried out under the leadership of senior scientists involved in the Linnaeus Centre of Excellence LUCCI and the Strategic Research Area MERGE, and the Bolin Centre for Climate Research. The appointee will document and report on their work in written and oral forms, and contribute to the scientific publication of results. Additional tasks will include liaison with HPC technical staff, model developers and scientists within LUCCI, MERGE, EC-EARTH and BCCR. Travel to and participation in project meetings, workshops and conferences mainly in Europe is expected.


Applicants must have a Ph.D. degree in a subject relevant for the appointment. Prior experience of working with climate or Earth system models on HPC systems is a requirement. Applicants must possess documented skills in computer programming, preferably in FORTRAN or the C/C++ language family, and should be familiar with command-language scripting in Unix or Linux environments. An excellent command of written and spoken English is required.

Prior experience of the application of climate or Earth System modelling, especially EC-EARTH, to the study of climate dynamics, especially biosphere-atmosphere feedbacks is a strong advantage. Experience of ecosystem modelling, especially LPJ-GUESS, or knowledge of palaeoclimate, ecosystem or Earth system processes and coupled interactions is an advantage.

The University applies individual salaries. Please state requested salary in your application.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

Friday 11 November 2016

Job opportunity: Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry - University of Toronto

Assistant Professor – Teaching Stream
Laboratories in Chemical Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry
University of Toronto Requisition #1601754

The Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto invites applications for a Teaching Stream appointment in Laboratories in Chemical Engineering at the rank of Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream. The expected start date is July 1, 2017.

The successful candidate must have a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering or a related discipline by the time of appointment, or shortly thereafter.  Hands on practical experience in industry is a significant asset.  Candidates are expected to demonstrate capacity for outstanding teaching, which will include developing and delivering undergraduate laboratories. Our most immediate need is in the delivery of our undergraduate laboratories in chemical engineering fundamentals, including unit operations, pilot scale processes, fluid flow, heat/mass transfer, separations, process monitoring and control, chemical reactions, bioprocesses etc. The two-story pilot lab is a ‘jewel’ in our program. It has seen significant recent investments with more planned as a key part of our strategic initiatives. The goal is to enhance experiential learning and innovation at both the undergraduate and graduate level as well as to connect it into other programs in engineering and science across the University. A description of the lab, its history and our exciting plans are at: Our primary objective is teaching excellence, particularly in the experiential/laboratory setting. We also expect that the successful candidate will be actively engaged in pedagogy and lead positive change in all of our educational programs including laboratory curriculum. 

The successful candidate will have: demonstrated excellence in teaching and pedagogy; a strong background in chemical engineering theory and practise; and excellent organizational and communication skills. Evidence of excellence in teaching will be demonstrated through strong letters of reference and the teaching dossier submitted as part of the application. Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Candidates must have or be eligible for Professional Engineering registration. 

The CHE Department consistently ranks among the top in Canada and attracts outstanding undergraduate and graduate students, has excellent facilities, and is ideally located in the middle of a vibrant cosmopolitan city. Additional information may be found at: 

All qualified candidates are invited to apply online at the link below. For further information about the application process, please see the submission guidelines at 

Applicants shall provide a curriculum vitae and a teaching dossier (including a statement of teaching philosophy and interests and evidence of teaching excellence such as teaching evaluations). 

Applicants should arrange to have three letters of reference (on letterhead, signed and scanned) sent directly by the referees to Professor D. Grant Allen via email at:
Review of applications will begin after January 31, 2017 but the position will remain open until filled.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons/persons of colour, women, Indigenous/Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

As part of your application, you will be asked to complete a brief Diversity Survey.  This survey is voluntary.  Any information directly related to you is confidential and cannot be accessed by search committees or human resources staff.  Results will be aggregated for institutional planning purposes.  For more information, please see

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and Permanent Residents will be given priority.

Thursday 10 November 2016

Job opportunity: Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Colloid and Surface Chemistry of Coal Processing and Flotation - Faculty of Engineering, Architecture & Info Tech at Brisbane

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Colloid and Surface Chemistry of Coal Processing and Flotation
Job no:499776

Area: Faculty of Engineering, Architecture & Info Tech
Salary (FTE): Advertised at multiple classifications
Work type: Full Time - Fixed Term
Location: St Lucia, Brisbane

School of Chemical Engineering

Engineering is an international leader in the chemical engineering field and has an excellent international reputation which has been built over four decades at the University. With 35 academic staff, including 17 professors, the School provides quality programs and leadership in chemical engineering education, research and development, and expert consulting to support the process industries. The School conducts undergraduate teaching in the disciplines of chemical, biological, environmental and metallurgical engineering and teaches into postgraduate programs in growing fields including integrated water management and energy studies. The School's project centered curriculum was recently chosen in a RAE & MIT study as one of six global exemplars in leading engineering education. UQ Chemical Engineering was recently ranked in the top 16 worldwide in QS subject rankings for chemical engineering and was the top ranking school in Australia. It was also given the highest score awarded for chemical engineering in Australia in the recent ERA study.

The role

The successful appointee will develop relevant experimental and modelling approaches to investigate and relate the roles of colloidal forces and surface chemistry of coal, mineral and tailings in dewatering and flotation. It may include AFM, zeta meters, tensiometers, XPS, dewatering experiments, flotation experiments and pilot scale studies; and model development involving DLVO/EDLVO theory. The appointee will assist in designing and interpreting experimental and modelling approaches that validate the theories on flocculation, dewatering kinetics, bubble-particle interactions in flotation, and publish high impact papers in top journals and conference proceedings. There are opportunities to collaborate with research teams and to supervise honours, masters and doctoral students.

The person

Applicants should possess PhD in froth flotation, with a focus on colloid and surface chemistry, demonstrated expert knowledge in flotation, dewatering, colloid and surface chemistry, and demonstrated skills in using instruments of dewatering. flotation, colloid and surface chemistry. They should have high level communication skills, ability to work collaboratively with students and colleagues, experience in writing reports and papers.


This is a full-time, fixed term appointment at Academic level A or B. The remuneration package will be in the range $79,171 - $89,459 p.a., plus employer superannuation contributions of up to 17% (total package will be in the range $92,630 - $104,667 p.a.).
Position Description

Download File 499776_NEW_Postdoctoral Research Fellow.pdf


To discuss this role please contact Anh Nguyen on +61 7 3365 3665 or
To submit an application for this role, use the Apply button below. All applicants must supply the following documents: Cover letter, Resume and Selection Criteria responses.
For information on completing the application process click here.
Advertised: 10 Nov 2016
Applications close: 22 Dec 2016 (11:55 PM) E. Australia Standard Time

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Opinion of Spanish Consumers on Hydrosustainable Pistachios

Journal of Food Science 81, 2016, 2559-2563
DOI: 10.1111/1750-3841.13501

Fruits and vegetables cultivated under controlled deficit irrigation (CDI) are called hydrosustainable (hydroSOS) products and have its own personality and are environmentally-friendly. Focus groups helped in classifying key farming, sensory, and health concepts associated with CDI-grown pistachios. Besides, focus groups also helped in stating that a logo was needed for these special foods, and that a hydroSOS index is also essential to certify that the products have been controlled by a control board. Conjoint analysis was used to check which attributes could be helpful in promoting CDI-grown pistachios among Spanish consumers in a 1st step toward the European Union (EU) market. It was clearly proved that the main silo of properties driving the attention of Spanish consumers was that related to health. The most important attributes for pistachios were “product of Spain,” “rich in antioxidant,” and “crunchy”; this finding was clearly related to the popularity of regional foods, the preoccupation of European consumers for their health, and the joy related to the crunchiness of toasted nuts, respectively. The use of these 3 concepts, together with the use of the hydroSOS logo, will be essential to promote hydroSOS pistachios among Spanish and EU consumers. Finally, it is important to highlight that in general Spanish consumers were willing to pay an extra amount of 1.0 euros per kg of hydroSOS pistachios. These earnings will be essential to convince Spanish farmers to implement CDI strategies and have a sustainable and environmental-friendly use of the irrigation water.

The information generated in this study will be essential for farmers as a starting point for promoting their hydroSOS pistachios, and a similar strategy can be implemented for other hydroSOS vegetables and fruits. Nowadays, it is necessary to address consumers’ demands to ensure new products’ success in the market.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Removal of anionic pollutants by pine bark is influenced by the mechanism of retention

Chemosphere, 167, 2017, 139–145

The use of organic biosorbents for anion removal from water has been less studied than for cationic compounds. In this work, the removal capacity of pine bark for potential anionic pollutants (fluoride, phosphate, arsenate and dichromate) was assessed in column experiments, designed to study the process of transport. The results showed that pine bark has a very low retention capacity for phosphate, arsenate or fluoride, and in turn, very high for dichromate, with retention values close to 100% and less than 2% desorption of the adsorbed dichromate. The large differences observed between anions suggest that differences in the retention mechanism of each anion exist. In the case of phosphate and arsenate, electrostatic interactions with the mostly negatively charged functional groups of the pine bark determine the low retention capacity. Dichromate retention might proceed through reduction of chromium (VI) to chromium (III), what improves the efficiency of the removal.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Pb pollution in soils from a trap shooting range and the phytoremediation ability of Agrostis capillaris

Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2016, 23, 1312–1323.
DOI: 10.1007/s11356-015-5340-7

Pb pollution caused by shooting sport activities is a serious environmental problem that has increased considerably in recent decades. The aims of this study were firstly to analyze Pb pollution in soils from a trap shooting range abandoned in 1999, secondly to study the effectiveness of different extractants [CaCl2, DTPA, NH4OAc, low molecular weight organic acids (LMWOA), and bidistilled water (BDW)] in order to determine Pb bioavailability in these soils, and finally to evaluate the phytoremediation ability of spontaneous vegetation (Agrostis capillaris L.). To this end, 13 soils from an old trap shooting range (Galicia, NW Spain) were studied. It was found that Pb levels in the soils were higher than 100 mg kg−1, exceeding the generic reference levels, and three of these samples even exceeded the USEPA threshold level (400 mg kg−1). In general, the reagent that best represents Pb bioavailability and has the greatest extraction efficiency was CaCl2, followed by DTPA, NH4OAc, LMWOA, and BDW. A. capillaris Pb contents ranged between 9.82 and 1107.42 mg kg−1 (root) and between 6.43 and 135.23 mg kg−1 (shoot). Pb accumulation in roots, as well as the presence of secondary mineral phases of metallic Pb in the adjacent soil, showed the phytostabilization properties of A. capillaris.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Copper, Chromium, Nickel, Lead and Zinc levels and pollution degree in firing rage soils

Land Degrad. Develop. 27: 1721–1730 (2016)

Small-arms firing ranges are an important source of metal contaminants in the ecosystems located near these facilities, owing to the constant fall and alteration of the ammunition remnants on the soil, particularly in nearby berms. The objectives of this study were to analyse the pollution of chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) in rifle/pistol shooting range soils, to estimate their availability and to evaluate the influence of the ammunition used. The concentrations of Pb, Zn, Cu, Cr and Ni range from 55 to 6·309, 34 to 264, 19 to 98, 40 to 79 and 11 to 33 mg kg 1, respectively. The moderate acidity and organic matter content favour the availability of Pb, followed by Cu > Zn > Ni > Cr. The values of different contamination indexes (Igeo, pollution index and integrated pollution index) suggest that Pb soil contamination is moderate to heavy, especially in the berm area and moderate for Cu and Zn. Lead ammunition is the main source of pollution, but another one was identified owing to the concentrations of Fe, Cr and Ni detected. Further studies are needed to verify their long-term potential adverse effects.

Sunday 9 October 2016

TOF-SIMS and FE-SEM/EDS to verify the heavy metal fractionation in serpentinite quarry soils

CATENA, 136, 2016, 30–43

This study aims at extensively defining serpentinite quarry soils and analysing their content and distribution of heavy metals using chemical sequential extraction. The association with the different geochemical phases of the soil was verified using TOF-SIMS and SEM-EDS techniques. Seven soils were chosen in two serpentinite quarries located in Moeche (M) and Silleda (C) (Galicia, northwest of Spain). The selected areas for soil sampling were: dump sites (M1, M2 and C1), rock extraction sites (M3, C2), and quarry boundaries (M4 and C3). The total soil concentration of Co, Cr, Ni, and V varied from 1472 to 7132, 1499 to 4309, 76 to 373, and 21 to 140 mg kg− 1, respectively. In all cases they exceed the maximum limit permitted in soils. After chemical sequential extraction it was found that the high content of Co, Cr, Ni, and V is associated with the residual fraction of the soils. In addition, Fe and Mn oxides have a high capacity for Co fixation, whereas Cr, Ni, and V are mainly associated with magnesium silicates. The fractions related to organic matter and the soluble or available forms are, respectively low and very low, not exceeding 2.5% in any of the soils. This association of the metals with magnesium silicates and Fe oxides, and the low content of metals bound to organic matter were identified by using the TOF-SIMS and SEM-EDS techniques. Both techniques confirmed and verified the results obtained during the chemical sequential extraction by checking the interaction of heavy metals with the different components of the soil.

Saturday 8 October 2016

Using calcium phosphate nanoparticles to reduce metal mobility in shooting range soils

Science of The Total Environment, 571, 2016, 1136–1146

Shooting activities are a very important source of contamination as they are commonly detected high concentrations of Pb in the soils from these facilities. Different remediation methods imply the immobilization of the pollutants by decreasing their mobility and availability and nanotechnology is a promising technique in this field. The effectiveness of calcium phosphate nanoparticles (CPNs) in the remediation of small-arms firing range and trap shooting range soils is evaluated in this work. The operationally defined extractable content of Pb, Cu and Zn is determined together with the interaction of the pollutants with the nanomaterials. Soil samples were treated with the CPNs and after the treatment the extractable contents of Cu, Pb and Zn decrease. To check the retention by the nanoparticles TOF-SIMS (Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) and HR-TEM-EDS (High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy) techniques were applied. The association of Pb and Cu to the CPNs was demonstrated by TOF-SIMS although it also indicated that not all the Pb and Cu contents are linked to the nanoparticles. By means of HR-TEM/EDS it was made out the filamentous shape and the size (50–150 nm long and 20–40 nm wide) of the CPNs together with their elemental composition (Ca, P and O). The CPNs were identified in treated soil samples together with signals of metals. The decrease on metal extractability detected is, in part, due to the association with CPNs but still more investigation is needed regarding mobility and availability of potentially hazardous elements in soils treated with nanoparticles.

Friday 7 October 2016

Sepia ink as a surrogate for colloid transport tests in porous media

Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 191, 2016, 88–98

We examined the suitability of the ink of Sepia officinalis as a surrogate for transport studies of microorganisms and microparticles in porous media. Sepia ink is an organic pigment consisted on a suspension of eumelanin, and that has several advantages for its use as a promising material for introducing the frugal-innovation in the fields of public health and environmental research: very low cost, non-toxic, spherical shape, moderate polydispersivity, size near large viruses, non-anomalous electrokinetic behavior, low retention in the soil, and high stability.

Electrokinetic determinations and transport experiments in quartz sand columns and soil columns were done with purified suspensions of sepia ink. Influence of ionic strength on the electrophoretic mobility of ink particles showed the typical behavior of polystyrene latex spheres. Breakthrough curve (BTC) and retention profile (RP) in quartz sand columns showed a depth dependent and blocking adsorption model with an increase in adsorption rates with the ionic strength. Partially saturated transport through undisturbed soil showed less retention than in quartz sand, and matrix exclusion was also observed. Quantification of ink in leachate fractions by light absorbance is direct, but quantification in the soil profile with moderate to high organic matter content was rather cumbersome.

We concluded that sepia ink is a suitable cheap surrogate for exploring transport of pathogenic viruses, bacteria and particulate contaminants in groundwater, and could be used for developing frugal-innovation related with the assessment of soil and aquifer filtration function, and monitoring of water filtration systems in low-income regions.

Thursday 6 October 2016

Rainfall-induced removal of copper-based spray residues from vines

Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety,132, 2016, 304–310

The continuous use of copper against fungal diseases and off-target effects causes major environmental and agronomic problems. However, the rain-induced removal of Cu-based residues is known only for a limited number of crops. We present the results of rain-induced removal of fungicides from two monitored vineyard plots which were sprayed with two widely used Cu-based formulations: copper-oxychloride (CO) and Bordeaux mixture (BM), respectively. Cu removal per growing season was 0.60±0.12 kg ha−1 (30% of the applied fungicide) for CO and 0.80±0.10 kg ha−1 for BM (70% of the applied fungicide). Fractioning the Cu in soluble (CuS) and particulate fractions (CuP) showed that most of the Cu was removed as CuP, but CuS concentrations found in throughfall collectors exceeded the regulatory threshold for toxicity in surface waters. The first few millimeters of rain caused most of the Cu removal. Our findings agreed with the data reported in the scientific literature, in which a significant fraction of the Cu-based formulation is loosely attached to the plant surfaces. In addition, we found that rainfall energy had a minor influence on the removal.

Wednesday 5 October 2016

2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 with one half to:

University of Strasbourg, France

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA


University of Groningen, the Netherlands

"for the design and synthesis of molecular machines"

They developed the world's smallest machines
A tiny lift, artificial muscles and miniscule motors. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 is awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa for their design and production of molecular machines. They have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added.

The development of computing demonstrates how the miniaturisation of technology can lead to a revolution. The 2016 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have miniaturised machines and taken chemistry to a new dimension.

The first step towards a molecular machine was taken by Jean-Pierre Sauvage in 1983, when he succeeded in linking two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain, called a catenane. Normally, molecules are joined by strong covalent bonds in which the atoms share electrons, but in the chain they were instead linked by a freer mechanical bond. For a machine to be able to perform a task it must consist of parts that can move relative to each other. The two interlocked rings fulfilled exactly this requirement.

The second step was taken by Fraser Stoddart in 1991, when he developed a rotaxane. He threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle and demonstrated that the ring was able to move along the axle. Among his developments based on rotaxanes are a molecular lift, a molecular muscle and a molecule-based computer chip.

Bernard Feringa was the first person to develop a molecular motor; in 1999 he got a molecular rotor blade to spin continually in the same direction. Using molecular motors, he has rotated a glass cylinder that is 10,000 times bigger than the motor and also designed a nanocar.

2016's Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken molecular systems out of equilibrium's stalemate and into energy-filled states in which their movements can be controlled. In terms of development, the molecular motor is at the same stage as the electric motor was in the 1830s, when scientists displayed various spinning cranks and wheels, unaware that they would lead to electric trains, washing machines, fans and food processors. Molecular machines will most likely be used in the development of things such as new materials, sensors and energy storage systems.


Jean-Pierre Sauvage, born 1944 in Paris, France. Ph.D. 1971 from the University of Strasbourg, France. Professor Emeritus at the University of Strasbourg and Director of Research Emeritus at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), France.

Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, born 1942 in Edinburgh, UK. Ph.D. 1966 from Edinburgh University, UK. Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.

Bernard L. Feringa, born 1951 in Barger-Compascuum, the Netherlands. Ph.D.1978 from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Professor in Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands.

Fuente: The Official Web Site of the Nobel Price

Tuesday 4 October 2016

2016 Nobel Prize in Physics

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2016 with one half to:

University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

and the other half to

Princeton University, NJ, USA


Brown University, Providence, RI, USA

”for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”

They revealed the secrets of exotic matter

This year’s Laureates opened the door on an unknown world where matter can assume strange states. They have used advanced mathematical methods to study unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films. Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunt is now on for new and exotic phases of matter. Many people are hopeful of future applications in both materials science and electronics.

The three Laureates’ use of topological concepts in physics was decisive for their discoveries. Topology is a branch of mathematics that describes properties that only change step-wise. Using topology as a tool, they were able to astound the experts. In the early 1970s, Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless overturned the then current theory that superconductivity or suprafluidity could not occur in thin layers. They demonstrated that superconductivity could occur at low temperatures and also explained the mechanism, phase transition, that makes superconductivity disappear at higher temperatures.

In the 1980s, Thouless was able to explain a previous experiment with very thin electrically conducting layers in which conductance was precisely measured as integer steps. He showed that these integers were topological in their nature. At around the same time, Duncan Haldane discovered how topological concepts can be used to understand the properties of chains of small magnets found in some materials.

We now know of many topological phases, not only in thin layers and threads, but also in ordinary three-dimensional materials. Over the last decade, this area has boosted frontline research in condensed matter physics, not least because of the hope that topological materials could be used in new generations of electronics and superconductors, or in future quantum computers. Current research is revealing the secrets of matter in the exotic worlds discovered by this year’s Nobel Laureates.


David J. Thouless, born 1934 in Bearsden, UK. Ph.D. 1958 from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA. Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.

F. Duncan M. Haldane, born 1951 in London, UK. Ph.D. 1978 from Cambridge University, UK. Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Princeton University, NJ, USA.

J. Michael Kosterlitz, born 1942 in Aberdeen, UK. Ph.D. 1969 from Oxford University, UK. Harrison E. Farnsworth Professor of Physics at Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.

Fuente: The Official Web Site of the Nobel Price