Sponsored by IOM3, with support from The Armourers & Brasiers' Company, the Young Persons' Lecture Competition invites students and professionals up to the age of 28 to deliver a short lecture on a materials, minerals, mining, packaging, clay technology, wood science or engineering related subject.
Candidates compete in a series of heats organised by IOM3 Local Societies, from which regional finalists are selected to compete in the national final. The winner goes on to represent their country in the Young Persons' World Lecture Competition.
Young Persons' Lecture Competition 2020
The 2020 YPLC final was held on Wednesday 23 September online. The event was sponsored by The Armourers & Brasiers' Company, the Midland Institute of Mining Engineers (MIME) and the East Midlands Materials Society (EMMS).
Seven regional finalists from around the UK gave their presentations online, with topics ranging from thermal barrier coatings and hip implant materials to self-cleaning glass.
Find out more about the winners and finalists and read summaries of their presentations below.
Morgan Lowther- Winner
Morgan Lowther- Winner
Having studied for an MSci in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, UK, Morgan returned to his Midlands roots to work at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in 2016. As part of the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, he spent time characterising the feedstocks used for metal powder bed printers. This led to a fascination with how powder, printing parameters and post-processing alter the behaviour of additively manufactured materials.
Now a final year PhD student at the University of Birmingham, UK, Morgan's research uses 3D printing to deliver antimicrobials from biomedical implants, hoping to tackle the increasing challenge of implant-associated infections. Engaging with science outreach since his undergraduate days, a highlight has been helping students become human 3D printers. In his spare time, Morgan is a (very) amateur baker, climber and badminton player
Head, shoulders, knees and microbes: 3D printing better implants
Over 100,000 joint replacement surgeries take place each year in the UK alone, accounting for 1 in 10 hospital admissions. But the prevalence of metallic implants belies that the human body is among the most challenging environments for materials design. Implants often fail not through mechanical means, but biologically, by failing to integrate with native tissues and being colonised by microbes. With the increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance predicted to kill more people than cancer by 2050, making previously simple surgeries life threatening, preventing implant-associated infection is a necessity.
Conventional approaches have relied on coatings and other secondary processing to modify implants after manufacture. However, in the past decade, advances in metal additive manufacturing (AM) have opened the possibility of radically new approaches to implant design and materials. How might AM simultaneously revolutionise the production of implants and help mitigate the threat of antimicrobial resistance?
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Tamás Zagyva - 2nd Place
North West & North Wales
Tamás Zagyva - 2nd Place
North West & North Wales
Tamás graduated from Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary, with a BSc in Earth Science in 2016 and with an MSc in Materials Science in 2019. His undergraduate research was related to mineralogy and crystallography. During his Master’s studies, he was involved in a research project focusing on bioceramic coatings. Tamás has attended several conferences presenting his undergraduate and Master's research with great success, winning awards in both best poster and best presentation categories. He is the first author of one, and co-author of two, peer-reviewed articles. He started his PhD at The University of Manchester, Dalton Nuclear Institute, UK, in 2019. His PhD topic focuses on the radiation effects on glass-ceramic nuclear waste forms. This research gives an opportunity to continue his committed career path combining geology and materials science.
In his spare time, Tamás enjoys participating on gem and mineral shows, as well as collecting minerals. He is keen on motorsports and enjoys playing board games.
Hip implant materials: novel bioactive coatings for silicon nitride ceramic hip replacements
Total hip replacements are one of the most challenging implants because they need to be created from materials with extremely good mechanical and biological properties. Metals and alloys have been widely used for decades due to their excellent mechanical strength and corrosion resistance. However, the high-wear rate and the toxicity of the chemical components urged the development of non-metallic implant materials like polymers and ceramics. Silicon nitride has recently been introduced as a commercially available bioceramic for total hip replacements with outstanding mechanical properties.
This lecture gives an introduction about the development of total hip replacement materials and presents research about novel bioactive coatings on silicon nitride ceramics, which could speed up the healing process after surgery. An alternative, simple, coating deposition technique has been developed especially for silicon nitride hip implants, where eggshell is the raw material of the coatings.
Shima Ghanaatian - 3rd Place
Shima Ghanaatian - 3rd Place
Shima graduated from the Petroleum University of Technology (PUT) in Iran with a 1st Class Bachelors in Chemical Engineering in 2013. In 2015, she joined Hydrafact Ltd in Edinburgh, UK, where she was mainly involved with corrosion studies in the oil and gas industry. Continuing her passion for addressing global warming challenges and following her win of the prestigious James-Watt Scholarship, she undertook a PhD in Chemical Engineering under the supervision of UK industrial decarbonisation champion, Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, at the Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS). Here, she currently focuses on carbon storage in geological formations. She is heavily involved in the MILEPOST project, where her research study unravelled the CO2 reactive flow drivers at multi-scale (pore to core) during the CO2 sequestration process.
Shima has published numerous peer-reviewed Journal articles and conference papers, and her innovative study of CO2 geological storage monitoring is internationally recognised and has achieved commendation through multiple prizes/awards. She has been awarded the EPSRC Travel Grant, the EXPO&more Workshop Grant and Best PhD Student Presenter Award, the latest at the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, UK. Her research studies have been presented at a number of international conferences, most recently the Trondheim CO2 Capture and Storage (TCCS) Conference in Norway in June 2019.
Outside of her project, Shima really enjoys teaching and lab demonstrating for chemical engineering undergraduate students. She wishes to integrate her love for the outdoors with clean atmosphere and sustainable development in her future profession.
Can we securely store CO2 in geological formations to address the global warming challenge
The injection of CO2 in geological formations, e.g. sandstone and carbonate formations, disrupts the equilibrium among the resident phases and causes geochemical changes. Determining safe storage of CO2 in aquifers significantly depends on understanding how fluid phases interact with the porous structure of rocks. Therefore, we investigated the reactivity of CO2-saturated brine with different ionic strengths in contact with sandstone at pressure and temperature conditions representative of storage sites. In this work, we employed a systematic combination of different techniques, including hydrothermal tests, ICP-OES, X-ray diffractometer, Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (ESEM-EDS), Micro-Computed Tomography (micro-CT) scanning to address the extremely intricate phenomena of flow, transport and reactions occurring over various temporal and spatial scales in sandstone reservoir rocks. The information gained from this study will allow us to build a better understanding of the dominant drivers of CO2 reactive transport in porous media during CO2 storage.
South West & South Wales
South West & South Wales
Freddie recently passed his PhD viva and is awaiting graduation from the University of Bristol, UK. In partnership with the National Physical Laboratory, Freddie’s PhD focused on translating the commonly found electro-mechanical components in DVD players and applying them as sensors for high-speed nanoscale imaging within material analysis. Working closely with Dr Oliver Payton and Dr Loren Picco at the University of Bristol, along with collaborators at the National Physical Laboratory, Virginia Commonwealth University (USA) and University College London (UK), Freddie has demonstrated the surprising performant capabilities of the low-cost DVD technology. As a consequence of integrating DVD reading sensors into the technique of high-speed atomic force microscopy, a series of new measurement tools have been created. He has worked on a diverse range of challenges from helping to perfect a novel 2D material manufacturing process, to developing a next generation genome sequencing diagnostic tool that has just completed medical trials for leukemia and breast cancer in the USA.
Nano- to millimetre-scale material characterisation with DVD player components
The digital versatile disc (DVD) player technology, which we might typically use at home to watch movies or transfer files in our workplaces, has been developed into a component capable of nanoscale sensing. DVD player detection systems operate at very high bandwidths and allow for unprecedented sensing speeds when applied to the emerging field of video-rate atomic force microscopy (AFM). This new type of microscope is able to collect topography maps thousands of times faster than conventional AFM, allowing nanoscale processes to be observed in real time under ambient or liquid environments.
The focus detection system in a DVD player read head (also known as an optical pickup unit) is central within a novel video-rate AFM that is able to map out individual strands of labelled DNA molecules in 3D that are less than 1,000,000,000th of a metre in size. Using this technology we are also able to map the locations of carbides, and other inclusions (approximately 2nm high) in thermally sensitised 306 stainless steel, akin to those materials found in nuclear reactor boiler components. Such data gives insight into the local changes in material properties that could lead to critical failure of high-value components in industry.
Alex graduated from the University of Leeds, UK, in 2018 with a first-class MEng/BEng in Chemical Engineering, specialising in Materials Sciences. Between his 3rd and 4th year of study, Alex gained an industrial placement at Guardian Industries UK, a commercial float glass producer. There, he was involved in developing XRF facilities for analysing and monitoring the quality of raw materials to help predict and maintain a stable glass chemistry. Following that, Alex was offered a project in partnership with Guardian Industries to look into the performance of commercially available self-cleaning glasses. The project involved understanding how the nanostructure of these thin coatings affect the overall performance and functionality of the products. Microscopy techniques such as SEM, TEM, EDX and XPS were used for his research. After completing his research, he was given a full-time role in the process engineering team at Guardian Industries and was awarded for his outstanding achievements by the University of Leeds.
Alex enjoys working with others to create long-lasting, innovative and sustainable solutions to problems. Outside of work, he enjoys mountain biking, DIY projects at home and walking his rescue husky Thor.
Self-cleaning glass, benchmarking and analysis
Self-cleaning glasses work by utilising a thin layer of photocatalytic material, commonly titanium dioxide, to break down organic matter into water-soluble components, which are then washed away by rain. Four methods for producing self-cleaning coatings were analysed in a comparative benchmark. The aim was to understand why certain self-cleaning glasses outperformed others in comparison; whether it be directly related to the surface features or whether it be more influenced by the structure and composition of the nanostructured layers themselves. To understand how the performance of each sample varied, a range of microscopic techniques were used to explore the fundamental macro- and microstructure of each sample and how these govern their overall properties and performance.
Minal graduated from Swansea University, UK, in 2017 with a first-class honour’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering and was awarded the Hugh O’Neil Award for her dissertation research BiVO4 & Cu2O Janus Particles: Towards Solar Energy. Following this, she enrolled as an EngD student at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Micro- and Nanomaterials at the University of Surrey, UK, and has just completed her second year on a National Physical Laboratory-sponsored project. Her research work involves investigating failure mechanisms of thermal barrier coatings on gas turbine engines through advanced characterisation techniques under the supervision of Dr Mark Baker, Prof John Watts and Mr Tony Fry. She has already presented at national and international conferences, winning prizes for her presentations.
While working as a doctoral student, she has volunteered as the Treasurer and Secretary of the Surrey Materials Student Forum and is currently the Vice-Chair of the Institution of Engineering and Technology's London Young Professional Network. She regularly takes part in outreach events and mentoring, including being an exhibitor at New Scientist Live and Royal Society Summer Exhibitions. She is also a member of the Mayor's London Scientist scheme, mentoring student-led projects to help them attain the Bronze Crest Award. She has also organised a conference for postgraduate students. Outside of STEM, Minal is multi-lingual and is currently learning Arabic. Her other hobbies include yoga, running, dancing and cooking.
Micro-mechanical testing of aged thermal barrier coatings
There is a continual drive to operate engines and power plants in harsher conditions, such as higher temperatures, with more aggressive fuels, more thermal cycling, etc, to improve efficiency and to underpin the increased use of renewables. The aerospace and energy industries need to be able to develop their materials to perform in these increasingly severe operating environments. The development of coatings for protection against corrosion and oxidation, as well as thermal protection, has facilitated their increased use on turbine components. These high-temperature coatings have complex microstructures that are highly dependent on the manufacturing process, making their lifetime difficult to predict and therefore reducing reliability in their application and maintainability. During the service of a thermal barrier coating (TBCs), a thermally grown oxide (TGO) layer develops between the bond coat and the top coat. Typically, failure and cracking occur close to this TGO layer. It is useful to examine these cracks using conventional microscopy techniques, however, this does not provide a fully representative understanding of the crack morphology and path in the sample.
Focused ion beam (FIB) tomography can be used to characterise the crack properties in three dimensions. Furthermore, micromechanical testing, such as hot nano-indentation, micro-pillar compression tests and micro-cantilever tests, can be performed to understand how the degradation in the localised mechanical properties and changes in chemistry near and through the crack govern its path.
Jack graduated from the University of Oxford, UK, in 2019 with a MEng in Materials Science. His final undergraduate year was spent under Professor Jason Smith investigating nanodiamond-based photonics, leading to a publication in Optical Materials Express. Jack is now pursuing a DPhil in the Oxford Department of Materials, under Professor Mauro Pasta, funded by The Faraday Institution and UK Research and Innovation into next-generation lithium batteries. The project focuses on investigating lithium metal anodes to replace the incumbent graphite anodes. Alongside his research, Jack enjoys endurance sport. He’s ran two marathons and multiple half-marathons and is currently training for an Ironman triathlon.
The advent of the electric car
Road transport accounts for a fifth of the UK's CO2 emissions and contributes significantly to air pollution. The switch from internal combustion to electric cars is therefore crucial to reduce our environmental impact.
Tesla, a company only founded in 2003, has revolutionised the global outlook on electric cars. It used to be widely agreed that the range, performance and cost were all intrinsically far worse than combustion engine cars. Today, this is not the case. Cost and range are progressing toward that of traditional cars, and both their performance and efficiency are greater. This change is reflected in UK legislation that requires all new cars sold from 2035 to be electric vehicles. The rapid speed of change sparks many questions: How have electric cars achieved this success? Why are electric cars all so powerful? What’s inside an electric car? What technical progress do we need to hit the 2035 goal?