Bear in the air

Scientists here at Brighton carried a cuddly colleague with them as they boarded an aircraft for zero-gravity flights.

‘Captain Bright One’, our University’s teddy bear mascot, flew with researchers as the pilot took the plane on an upward trajectory and then reduced thrust and pushed the stick to achieve weightlessness.

The researchers used the European Space Agency (ESA) flights to test a ground-breaking system that has the potential to revolutionise the way heat can be managed – a crucial requirement for satellites and other space craft.

The research is being led by Professor Marco Marengo, Professor of Engineering. He said: “Due to the complete absence of air and the violent extremes in temperature in space, satellites, for example, require a thermal radiation screen in order to limit both the excessive heat from the sun and release of heat to the cold of outer space.”

His team is developing a novel ‘pulsating heat pipe’ system which dissipates heat using an evaporator and a condenser connected through a meandering capillary tube. They needed to test the system in weightless conditions to ensure it will operate successfully when it is used in outer space.

ESA has granted the team access to the International Space Station to test the system further and it likely will travel with British astronaut Tim Peake when he undertakes his second space mission sometime after 2020.

The news follows the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council granting the team £900,000 to develop the system further.

Photos of the Captain Bright One teddy were taken by research team member Dr Nicolas Miché, leader for the University’s Aeronautical Engineering courses.

For more information on the team’s research, go to: http://bit.ly/2jU7UZG

Prestigious Fellowship for Morgan

Professor Morgan Heikal was today named as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering alongside a glittering list that includes some of the world’s leading innovators and business people.

The Royal Academy of Engineering is the UK’s national academy for engineering, bringing together the most successful and talented engineers to advance and promote excellence in engineering.

Professor Heikal leads the Advanced Engineering Centre here at the University of Brighton. The vibrant centre produces ground-breaking research into internal combustion engines, thermal systems for ground and space applications, and the development of laser-based diagnostic measurement techniques, which are fundamental to modelling and computational simulation.

Rising star collects award

Dr Frank Browne, School of Computing Engineering and Mathematics PhD graduate, was presented with the Institute of Physics (IOP) Nuclear Physics Group Early Career Award 2016 at the recent IOP conference in Birmingham.

Dr Browne gave a talk about his winning research on ‘The lifetimes of the first excited 2+ states in neutron-rich Zr-104, 106’.

Soon after graduating from the university last summer he landed a research job at the RIKEN research institute in Japan, renowned for recently discovering a new element, nihonium.

Dr Browne, 29, said he “loved” studying in Brighton but equally loves working in Japan: “I am at the same facility where I carried out the experimental work of my PhD. It’s the world’s premiere nuclear physics research facility and, as such, it is where some of the big breakthroughs in the field are happening, being a part of that is really exciting.”

Rising star wins national award

A rising star in the field of nuclear physics has won a national award – and a job at the world’s top nuclear research centre.

University of Brighton PhD graduate Dr Frank Browne has received the ‘Nuclear Physics Early Career Award’ from the Institute of Physics (IOP). And soon after graduating from the university last summer he landed a research job at the RIKEN research institute in Japan, renowned for recently discovering a new element, nihonium.

Dr Browne, 29, won £250 and the opportunity to present his work at the IOP nuclear physics annual conference at the University of Birmingham, starting 3 April.

He explained his research: “The popular image of the atomic nucleus is that of a jumble of protons and neutrons (collectively known as nucleons) arranged in a spherical shape at the centre of the atom. However, in reality the nucleons are arranged in well-defined shells, much like the electrons are in atoms. The arrangement of these shells can cause the nucleus to take on different shapes.

“In a nutshell, through the application of an array of novel radiation detectors developed by the universities of Brighton and Surrey, I was able to measure how much like a rugby ball some unstable nuclei looked like. This measurement paves the way for more robust theoretical descriptions of how the protons and neutrons behave in the nuclear medium. It also validates this novel technique for future experiments at next-generation accelerator facilities.”

Dr Browne, from Norfolk, said he “loved” studying in Brighton but equally loves working in Japan: “I am at the same facility where I carried out the experimental work of my PhD. It’s the world’s premiere nuclear physics research facility and, as such, it is where some of the big breakthroughs in the field are happening, being a part of that is really exciting.”

Dr Browne is a current recipient of a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship for Overseas Researchers, one of just 120 awarded from more than 1,200 applicants. And from March next year he will take up his position as a Special Postdoctoral Researcher at RIKEN.

Dr Browne’s supervisor, Professor Alison Bruce, the university’s Professor of Physics, said: “The level of Frank’s achievement is recognised by him being awarded two prestigious fellowships at the world renowned Riken facility.

“I have enjoyed watching him develop from a tentative new PhD student to his current position where he is defining his own research programme using state-of-the-art world class research facilities.”

For information on related courses at the University of Brighton click here and for more information on the university’s nuclear physics research click here.

GROUP PHOTO: Pictured at RIKEN are Dr Browne (right), Professor Bruce (rear) and Dr Oliver Roberts and Dr Cristina Nita, both Research Fellows at the university at the time.

Take a sneaky peak around our brand new Advanced Engineering Building

uniofbrightonIt’s here… the first sneaky peak around our brand new Advanced Engineering Building!#Construction is on target for completion by May and the official #opening in September #2017. This project will provide our #engineering #students with specialist teaching #facilities and #modern workshop spaces. There will also be cutting edge #laboratories including a dedicated combustion engine #research area and test cells.


#uniofbrighton #university #uni #campus #student #studentlife #studentspaces #development #building #architecture #design #Brighton #hellobrighton

Major grant for breakthrough research in thermal management

A major research grant worth £900k has been awarded to a project team in the University of Brighton’s Advanced Engineering Centre.

Source: Major grant for breakthrough research in thermal management

Soap Box Science’s first visit to Brighton

Head down to the seafront between 1-4pm on Saturday 29 July and celebrate women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) with Soapbox Science.

Soapbox Science hosts events across the UK and the world raising the profile of women in science – breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes about who a researcher is. And they are coming to Brighton for the first time this summer.
Chantal Nobs, a PhD student at the University of Brighton, was one of 12 women selected to participate in the Soapbox Science London event on London’s Southbank in 2016.

Find out more about the Brighton event here.

Soapbox science

A scientist from our school left her lab to stand on a soapbox to explain nuclear physics to members of the public and to help eliminate gender inequality in science.

Chantal Nobs, a PhD student at the University of Brighton, was one of 12 women selected to participate in the Soapbox Science London event on London’s Southbank.
Her session ‘Nuclear physics: Exploring the centre of the atom and harnessing its potential’ involved discussing her work and her experiences as a female scientist.

Chantal said she was impressed with the reaction from members of the public. One said: “Now, not only do I know what it means, but I know that women can do it.”

The key aim was to help eliminate gender inequality in science by raising the profile and challenging the public’s view of women in science. In addition to sharing their research with the general public, all 12 women became role-models for future generations.


Chantal said: “Although I was incredibly nervous before stepping onto my soapbox I thoroughly enjoyed the hour-long session. As soon as I had introduced myself, out of no-where, a full crowd had formed around me. A complete mixture of young and old, male and female, some who knew all about nuclear physics, and some who had never heard of a nucleus.

“The best part of the event for me was the variety of questions asked, everything from ‘how did you get into nuclear physics’ to ‘how do we know whether we have created a nucleus if we cannot see it’.”

Watch video highlights from Chantal’s talk here.

Cracking the whip on TV

A scientist from our division is due to appear on BBC’s The One Show to show what a sonic boom from a whip crack looks like.

Dr Guillaume de Sercey, Research Fellow with the university’s Advanced Engineering Centre, will be using the same imaging techniques – Schlieren imaging – that he and his team use in their research into the combustion process occurring inside the cylinder of an engine.

He said: “Schlieren imaging lets us visualise the fuel evaporation, its mixing with the air and the subsequent flame.”

Guillaume used the technique to help the programme’s science presenter Marty Jopson ‘see’ the shockwave that emanates from the tip of a whip when it is cracked and the item is scheduled to be aired at 7pm on Tuesday, 31 May.


He said: “The Schlieren technique allows us to see any change in the refractive index in transparent fluids such as air and water. Changes in refractive index are typically caused by a change in temperature or pressure or simply a change of fluid (e.g. two different gases mixing).

“The setup I’ve used for the BBC is extremely simple, yet works wonderfully. It start with a point light source (a blue LED in this case) that is placed at the focal point of a telescope mirror. You therefore have a cone of light directed towards the mirror. The mirror reflects that light back to a point.

“At that point, we place a knife edge that obstruct part of the light. Past that point we place a camera or a screen. In the absence of disturbance, the knife edge only effect is to dim the image. However, any change in density in the air in front of the mirror will cause the light rays to bend slightly (the shimmering effect you see on a hot road) and some of them will be blocked by the knife edge causing dark areas in the image, while others that were previously blocked will be visible causing brighter areas.”