I’m always overwhelmed by the range of world-leading science happening at Manchester – and never more so than on reading this edition. The selection here is certainly diverse – from the discovery of a simple new way of making two-dimensional nanomaterials, and mathematical modelling of the spread of illnesses such as ‘flu to studies of fossils using synchrotron X-rays that reveal how the crouched leg posture of modern birds evolved from the straighter limbs of dinosaurs.
For those of you who can remember learning about the spectrum of the hydrogen atom at school, did you ever imagine we would now be making the same measurement on the ‘antimatter’ equivalent, antihydrogen atoms, generated at CERN? In this edition we highlight the very first measurements, part of a programme that will give us a new understanding of what antimatter is. We follow this up with a molecule tied up in the tightest knot ever made, and we see how graphene can be used to make a sieve that can turn seawater into drinking water.
So what do the papers in this edition have in common? Well, one factor that unites them is that we are proud of them and their authors! We think these papers reflect what research in our Faculty is about – multi-facetted, contributing to real global challenges and at the forefront of world research.
At UoM, we believe that one of our core responsibilities as engineers and scientists is to help tackle the environmental and resource issues we face as part of the expanding global population. This is exemplified in this issue by new models for groundwater conservation to support long-term food security, and an improved understanding of the contribution of soot to warming of the global atmosphere. We demonstrate a new route to the production of clean hydrogen and work designed to improve the way that wave energy converters survive rough seas.
It’s increasingly the case that we need to pool our expertise to tackle the big challenges before us. We are proud of our interdisciplinary work, and it features strongly in this collection. It often produces results that we don’t expect. A good example in this edition is a collaboration between computer scientists and biotechnologists who have designed a new super-fast form of computer that uses DNA – essentially it grows at it computes! Far from being an abstract concept, the authors have demonstrated that the necessary edits of the DNA strings can be carried out in the lab. In another example, our chemists, physicists and materials scientists have combined forces to understand why one of the most promising newly-discovered solar cell materials is so unstable in air – which could help us to passivate its surfaces so we can exploit it’s full potential.
We hope you will enjoy this celebration of the very best research in science and engineering at the University of Manchester. We add new editions several times each year – so watch this space for more!