Science and Technology Facilities Council
UK's neutron science facility celebrates its impact on the world
The UK’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source (ISIS) has announced its annual Impact Awards which celebrate the scientific, social and economic impact of the research of its users.
The awards look at the research advances, significant social benefit and contribution to the economy made by its users from across the UK and internationally.
Dr Sihai Yang from the University of Manchester won this year’s Science Award for his work on developing functional materials where he has used neutrons to investigate porous materials.
Dr Yang’s research has studied how and where guest molecules interact with the walls of the nano-sized cavities found in porous materials and has resulted in breakthroughs in the development of materials that are highly efficient at cleaning up the most toxic components of smog. The captured gases can even be recovered for use in other chemical processes. In addition to this, Dr Yang’s work has also proved useful in the field of catalysis, using neutron scattering to help discover potential new efficient catalysts that could reduce costs in manufacturing processes.
Professor Maria Paula M. Marques, from Coimbra University, Portugal, was awarded the 2019 Society Impact Award for her work developing anti-cancer agents for cancers for which there are currently no successful therapies. Her work uses neutron scattering techniques to study the changes happening inside the cell as it undergoes drug treatment, focusing on the water inside the cell, and how this 'intracellular water' could be used as a target for anti-cancer drugs. This research could potentially pave the way for the development of anti-tumour drugs that can target multiple sites in cells.
The winner of the 2019 Economic Impact Award was Dr Indri Adilina from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) for her work using palm oil biomass waste as an alternative source of biofuel. Dr Adilina has been developing a method of converting the waste from palm oil production into biofuel in place of palm oil itself. Her team used the advanced neutron techniques available at ISIS to understand the interactions between the chemical compounds in biomass waste and a proposed bentonite catalyst, to develop a technique that will work on an industrial level – reducing Indonesia’s reliance on fossil fuels without negatively impacting Indonesian society or the local environment.
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