UNION project Barcelona

There aren’t many things more pleasurable than a warm summer’s day in the Malvern Hills, but when you find out the mid-term meeting for your project is being held in Barcelona, it’s very difficult to be disappointed! Obviously Barcelona was an exciting prospect, but also being able to catch up with the UNION partners and see their progress in the last six months was something I was really looking forward to.

UNION is an EU funded project looking at developing nanoparticle assembly techniques and assembly monitoring technologies to prepare novel nanoclusters which have tailored and predictable properties. The project incorporates a wide range of industries including biological, optical and thermoelectric.  The end goal of the project is to enable tuning of the primary nanoparticle properties and the assembly processes to develop significant breakthroughs in nano-devices and next generation complex nanotechnology products. Here’s a quick video introduction:

Due to the regular contact with the partners in UNION, you feel like you’re meeting up with old friends each time, and it was great to see how they are getting on. The project itself is now well on its way, and meeting all of the milestones set out in the guidelines. Discussions of exploitation strategies and potential further collaborations are always ongoing, proving how much potential there is for the outcomes of the UNION project.

The first day was spent outlining the progress in each work package and discussing the specific details to be presented to the technical officer from the European Commission on day three. After the formalities of the work packages, milestones and deliverables came the best part – time to socialise Spanish style with a seafood tapas feast on the beach with all the UNION partners!

The second day gave the opportunity for all of the researchers to present their work on the UNION project and subsequently have valuable scientific discussions with peers from a variety of backgrounds. The talks varied considerably from ‘thermoelectric properties of binary nanocomposites’ through to ‘characterisation of lipid coated Iron Oxide nanoparticles and clusters for bioapplication’. My personal favourite was the invited speaker Pilar Rivera Gil’s talk on ‘Multimodal nanostructured materials for bioimaging’ which incorporated a number of techniques from my PhD including liposome production and fluorescent labelling.

I presented a general update on Malvern’s progress on UNION so far, alongside some recent results using Malvern’s resonant mass measurement system Archimedes. The Archimedes is being used to identify the specific density of two differently produced nanoclusters of similar diameter, displaying different magnetic properties. This should provide insight into how the properties can be more closely controlled and perfected.

The prospect of using the technology of the Archimedes within the UNION project went down well with a number of partners interested in further applications and how the technique could benefit their investigations. This further reinforces why partnerships between academic and industrial partners can be so useful; the academic institutions provide the latest developments in future applications, while the industrial partner provides the instrumentation to assess these applications.  You can learn more about the Archimedes & resonant mass measurement in this video clip:

The final day meant the official business part of the meeting with the full presentations taking place to the technical officer appointed by the European Commission. With only positive feedback from the officer at the end of the meeting the UNION project is well on track, ticking all the boxes and certainly looking like a successful venture for industrial and academic partners alike.

You can follow UNION on Twitter or Linkedin for updates on the project.

Further reading from our UNION project partners:

Shedding Light on Vacancy-Doped Copper Chalcogenides: Shape-Controlled Synthesis, Optical Properties, and Modeling of Copper Telluride Nanocrystals with Near-Infrared Plasmon Resonances Ilka Kriegel, Jessica      Rodríguez-Fernández, Andreas Wisnet, Hui Zhang, Christian Waurisch, Alexander Eychmüller, Aliaksei Dubavik, Alexander O. Govorov, and Jochem Feldmann – ACS Nano 2013 7 (5), 4367-4377

Cation exchange synthesis and optoelectronic properties of type II CdTe–Cu2−xTe nano-heterostructures Ilka Kriegel, Andreas Wisnet,Ajay Ram Srimath Kandada, Francesco Scotognella, Francesco Tassone, Christina Scheu,Hui Zhang,Alexander O. Govorov, Jessica Rodríguez-Fernández and Jochen Feldmann – Journal of Materials Chemistry C: 2014, 2, 3189-3198

Related blog post:

Nanoparticles UNITE!