Published on 25 July 2014
A USC academic is set to shed significant new light on international chemical sensor research after being granted $76,000 worth of access to the Elettra Synchrotron in Italy.
USC's Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Roland De Marco is part of an international consortium using synchrotron light to develop improved chemical sensor materials.
“This research has the potential to bring benefits to clinical laboratories around the world,” Professor De Marco said.
“We are developing more robust and reliable chemical sensors, which are used globally for blood electrolyte analyses, as well as in environmental monitoring of metals in water and nutrients in the environment.”
A synchrotron is a large machine (about the size of a football field) that accelerates electrons and deflects them through magnetic fields to create extremely bright light. The light is channelled down beamlines to experimental workstations where it is used for research.
Through a European Union grant valued at $76,315, Professor De Marco has been awarded 18 operational shifts on the materials science beamline at the Elettra Synchrotron Light Source in Italy, together with technical and organisational support.
“USC researchers presently work on a research staff exchange scheme with the European Union that has established a network comprising leading laboratories from universities in Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia and the USA,” Prof De Marco said.
“Along with our connections at the University of Keele in England, Abo Akademi University in Finland, and Switzerland’s University of Geneva we have also been granted five days of beamtime at the Australian Synchrotron.”
Professor De Marco will this month conduct chemical sensor research at the Melbourne facility. He will be joined there by USC PhD student Krystina Lamb, and University of Geneva student Zdenka Jarolimova who is visiting Australia as part of the EU project.
In December, Professor De Marco and Ms Lamb will join other scientists from the international collaboration at the Elettra Synchrotron to conduct parallel experiments.
“The Elettra Materials Science beamline has a lower luminosity and beam energy than the beamline in Melbourne,” Professor De Marco said. “It is better suited to these fundamental studies of soft materials as the beam is less damaging to samples as well as enabling a thorough probing of the electronic structure of the materials, thereby yielding more reliable information about the new materials.”
“Therefore, our Italian experiments will extend and complement those undertaken in Australia.”
– David Cameron