Day of the Research – “Forskningens Døgn”

A fragment of a Dermestes genus beetle
Credit: Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

Every year Denmark has a proclaimed “Day of the Research” (which has now become a week, but never mind). With it researchers of all colours, far and wide, get the opportunity to tell about their research to the general population in a slew of different events, ranging from talks to debate panels, quizzes, interactive exercise and much more. The doors are thrown open – insofar as a digital, corona-proof event has doors – on the 23rd through 29th of April.

This year LINX has been created as one of the organizers to set up contributions. 3 talks, specifically, from within our area of X-rays and neutrons. It is a new role, but we are happy to have seen volunteers stepping forward from between our members and general research network.

The three talks are:

  • Researchers steal from nature” by Ph.D. scient. Martin Alm, BioModics ApS
  • The Nordic Region will be a mecca for world-leading research in new materials” by prof. Kim Lefmann, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen
  • Discovering the world of organic solar cells with X-rays” by Ph.D. stud. Mariam Ahmad, SDU NanoSYD

Read in more details about the talks below.

“Researchers steal from nature”, Ph.D. scient. Martin Alm, BioModics ApS

Researchers can learn a lot from plants and animals. They examine, and seek to imitate, the design of nature when developing everything from artificial blood vessels to green and safe batteries. That way to approach research is called biomimetics.

Biomimetic research has a broad span. The field is constantly expanding as other interdisciplinary science recognize that solutions they seek often already exist in nature. By way of example, shark skin has inspired new swimsuits.

Biomimetics is not a new phenomenon. The Stone Age people copied nature when they put on fur to keep warm. Leonardo Da Vinci imitated birds when he drew his famous sketches of aeroplanes 500 years ago. And Velcro was invented after a hike in the Alps when Swiss engineer George de Mestral noticed some small, green seeds from the burdock plant getting stuck in the dog’s fur and his trousers.

In Denmark too, we are steaming ahead when it comes to biomimetics. Ph.D. Martin Alm, BioModics ApS, will talk about how the company Biomodics works in the biomimetic field when developing future solutions in medical products such as artificial blood vessels, infection-free catheters and band-aids.

Some examples from Biomodics:

  • Mussels can easily stick to rocks and cliffs without being washed away by the waves of the sea. We try to mimic that glue when we need to make patches for wet wounds. These are microstructures with many small points of contact that will stick, but not so much that the skin is damaged when you tear off the patch.
  • Cells, especially the cell membrane, have ion transporters that allow nutrients to pass through. We imitated them when we developed a catheter that prevents urinary tract infections.
  • In biomimetic chemistry, we found that zwitterions are good at transporting lithium ions. That is why, as something new, we have started to develop lithium batteries. Zwitterions are chemical compounds that have both a positive and a negative electric charge at different sites on the molecule.

Read more about this event on Forskningens Døgn – Forskerne stjæler fra naturen.

“The Nordic Region will be a mecca for world-leading research in new materials”, prof. Kim Lefmann, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen

Did you know that advanced magnets can help us save huge amounts of energy?

The Q-MAT project deals with superconductors and other quantum materials such as advanced magnets. For instance it investigates the possibility of cheaper permanent magnets, better and smaller sensors, development of components for future quantum computers, new superconductors for lossless transport of electricity across the globe, cheaper MRI scanners, and much more.

In this lecture, professor of neutron-based experimental magnetism and superconductors, Kim Lefmann from the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, talks about the ideas behind Q-MAT and the very close connection to the research facility European Spallation Source (ESS), which will soon be completed in Lund.

ESS will explore materials by bombarding them with neutrons, and it will become the world’s absolute leading facility for the purpose. Together with its neighbour, the X-ray facility MAX IV, it will increase Danish researchers’ knowledge of materials at the molecular and atomic level. ESS will be an incredible improvement for the detailed understanding for use e.g. in pharmaceuticals and the transition to green technologies.

In Denmark, we are preparing for the use of ESS by creating so-called “lighthouses”, which are professional research collaborations between universities and other partners. Three lighthouses have already been set up with Q-MAT as one, and more are on the way.

The ESS neutron facility is paid for in part by Sweden and Denmark, in part by 14 other European countries. It is estimated that 2-3000 of the world’s leading researchers will travel to the ESS annually to complete their projects. The ESS is scheduled to open in 2024, and the price of the entire facility exceeds two billion euros.

Read more about this event on Forskningens Døgn – Norden bliver et mekka for verdensførende forskning i nye materialer.

“Discovering the world of organic solar cells with X-rays”, Ph.D. stud. Mariam Ahmad, SDU NanoSYD

Did you know that the sun is our cleanest and greatest source of energy, and that it – as such – is one of our most important weapons in the fight against climate change?

Solar cells are devices that can convert solar energy into electricity. Organic solar cells are a new type of solar cell that is paper-thin, transparent, flexible, and easy to mass produce and install – unlike the classic silicon-based solar cells.

Organic solar cells consist of different layers of thin film, all of which contribute to the function of the cells. It is important that these thin films have the right properties and can “work together” in order for the solar cells to achieve high performance. Therefore, when making new materials for solar cells, they need to be examined carefully to determine if they have the right properties to increase the efficiency.

In this regard, X-rays play an important role, as they are the perfect tool to dive into the world of thin films and understand their contribution to the performance of organic solar cells.

Come and listen to PhD student Mariam Ahmad, SDU NanoSYD, talk about the work with the organic solar cells.

Read more about this event on Forskningens Døgn – På opdagelse i de organiske solcellers verden med røntgenstråler.

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