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Pioneering new x-ray facility will study diamonds

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SCIENTISTS from Aberystwyth University are among the first to have used a pioneering new x-ray facility at one of the world’s most advanced scientific facilities.

The new VERSOX facility at the UK’s national synchrotron radiation facility in Oxfordshire was developed by a team of scientists including Professor Andrew Evans, head of the Department of Physics at Aberystwyth.

Professor Evans chairs the User Working Group of the multi-million pound VERSOX project which delivered its ‘first light’ in June 2017.

Professor Evans and colleagues from the Materials Physics research group at Aberystwyth used the new facility to study diamonds at the beginning of August.

Their work focused on nanodiamonds which measure just five nanometres across. Over a million diamonds would fit on the head of a pin.

The team are studying how these tiny diamonds supplied by diamond producer DeBeers could be used to improve the way drugs are delivered in the body for the treatment of conditions such as cancer.

Five years in its development and construction, VERSOX is part of Diamond Light Source at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

Designed to work like a giant microscope, Diamond Light Source harnesses the power of electrons to produce bright beams of light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines, viruses and vaccines.

VERSOX is one of a series of laboratories known as ‘beamlines’ that capture the bright light beams, giving researchers access to a machine 10,000 times more powerful than a traditional microscope.

Described as a versatile soft X-ray facility, VERSOX has been designed for the study of elements including those essential for life: carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.

Professor Evans said: “VERSOX provides a unique advanced tool for future materials development, as it allows researchers to study the atomic structures, the chemical nature and the composition of surfaces at near-ambient pressure, providing important real-world data for a wide range of materials and applications.

“The facility will be of benefit to a diverse range of scientific areas, including pharmaceuticals, electronics, environmental chemistry and heritage conservation and we are delighted that the Aberystwyth group is one of the first to use it,” he added.

Researchers at Aberystwyth University specialise in the physics of diamond surfaces and coatings with molecules, metals, insulators and graphene and also in the interaction of diamonds with light to pave the way for making new quantum structures.

Aberystwyth is one of eight partner universities to have been awarded a new Centre for Doctoral Training in Diamond Science and Technology (CDT) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The work of the CDT promises many pioneering diamond-enabled technologies and original scientific insights.
PhD students from the University are using the soft x-ray methods available through VERSOX to probe interfaces between diamond, nanodiamond and organic molecules for applications in electronics, quantum computing and drug delivery.

A world authority on diamond surfaces, Professor Evans is a guest speaker at the week-long European Materials Research Society 2017 Fall Meeting and Exhibition which opens in Warsaw Poland on Sunday (Sept 17).

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Winners of the Ceredigion Marine Litter Reduction competition announced

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THE WINNING designs were announced on 5 March for a competition held at five primary schools across Ceredigion. The task was to design a poster that will be used as an accreditation to businesses who are reducing their use of plastics and packaging.

Year 5 and 6 pupils from Ysgol Gynradd Aberaeron, Ysgol Cei Newydd, Ysgol Gynradd Bro Sion Cwilt , Ysgol Gynradd Aberporth and Ysgol Gymunedol Craig Yr Wylfa participated in the competition. Across the schools, the five best designs were chosen as winners. The winners and eight runners up received certificates for their achievements.

The winning posters will be awarded to businesses and organisations who support plastic reduction, support packaging reduction, allow customers to re-fill single-use water bottles and have stopped providing plastic straws. Schools who commit to reducing their plastic will also be awarded accreditation posters.

Melanie Heath is the Cardigan Bay Marine Protected Area Officer for Ceredigion County Council. She said, “Following a successful plastic reduction pilot project in Llangrannog in 2016, we wanted to reward or accredit businesses and organisations who had reduced their use of plastic.

With this year’s project, we wanted to involve our young people, who care passionately about issues such as plastic pollution and climate change. We wanted to give them the opportunity to contribute to the campaign and to have their voices heard.”

To support the running of the project this year, Ceredigion County Council received a grant from Natural Resources Wales.

Linda Ashton, Senior Partnership, Access and Recreation Officer, Natural Resources Wales said, “We support communities and partners through our grant aid programmes to help more people learn about and enjoy our natural environment.

It is great to see young people getting involved with projects like this and encouraging others to reduce their plastic waste. Helping to protect the environment of Wales for the future.”

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New Quay RNLI curry and quiz night

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NEW QUAY RNLI Fundraisers are hosting the annual curry and quiz night at New Quay Yacht Club on Friday 22 March at 7.30pm. The fundraising team is also looking for new members to help raise funds to save lives at sea.

Tim Richards, New Quay RNLI Fundraising Manager said, “Everyone is welcome to join us for a fun evening at the Yacht Club. The evening will begin with a home cooked curry and finish with a light-hearted quiz to get your brain cells working. So why not join us to tickle your taste buds and test your general knowledge while raising money for lifeboats at the same time?”

The New Quay Ceredigion Fundraising Branch are volunteers that devote their time to raising vital funds for the RNLI, the charity which saves lives at sea. They organise and host a variety of family friendly events throughout the year, from fish supper evenings to the Christmas Fayre.

Tim added, “We are looking for new members to join our fundraising team, no experience necessary but lots of enthusiasm and ideas are very welcome. We meet on average once a month so if you are interested please do not hesitate to contact me at tim.dysonrichards@gmail.com or New Quay Lifeboat Station on 01545 560311 to help make a difference.”

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New Quay RNLI help rowers prepare for Celtic Challenge

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NEW QUAY RNLI recently assisted Clwb Rhwyfo Llangrannog Rowing Club with their training for this year’s Celtic Challenge.

The biennial challenge sees teams of 12 people rowing through the night from Arklow in Ireland to Aberystwyth in Wales, a journey of approximately 97 miles. The race is an extreme test of endurance and usually takes between 15 and 24 hours, depending on the weather.

 

Two New Quay RNLI crew members, Laura Mears and Heather Rees-Gaunt, are members of the Llangrannog Rowing Club and Heather will be taking part in the gruelling challenge which is set to take place between May 3-6, 2019.

As part of their preparations, the rowing team took part in a structured exercise with lifeboat crew members simulating a person overboard incident so that the rowers gained experience in manoeuvring the boat and recovering a person from the water. New Quay RNLI Community Safety Adviser, Roy Fenner, also gave advice on safety equipment and means of calling for help.

 

Heather, who has previously rowed the Indian Ocean from Australia to the Seychelles, breaking two world records, said, “These training exercises with the RNLI are crucial for our preparations as we will be rowing in the Irish Sea at night, which can be a dangerous place to be if you’re not fully prepared. The person overboard training helps each team member know what to do if the situation arises.

“After the training session, the feedback from all the rowers was hugely positive. Doing the practical training has installed a huge element of confidence in dealing with the ever-changing scenarios that can take place at sea. I know from experience that anything can happen and usually when you least expect it. Small situations escalate very quickly in such an unpredictable environment but knowing your team has that little bit more experience and training can only ever be a positive.”

BBC cameras are following their journey, including preparations and training as well as the race itself, with each team member raising money for a charity of their choice.

The club is still searching for sponsors for various items of clothing for the challenge. If you are able to help please email Rhwyfo Crannog Rowing on mispinc@hotmail.com or call 07415 351 431.

 

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