De Montfort Medal recognises early-career research scientists

Materials World magazine
Yi Zhang, a PhD student from the Materials Science and Metallurgy department at the University of Cambridge, UK, won the De Montfort Medal, top prize in a poster competition which recognises Britain’s Top Early-Career Research Scientists, Engineers and Technologists. Zhang has helped divise a method for enhancing the plasticity of metalic glasses.

New ‘flat’ optical fible

Materials World magazine
Researchers at the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at Southampton, UK, have developed a novel ‘flat’ optical fibre to provide a simple and inexpensive approach to creating flexible optical devices. They hope it will facilitate mechanical flexibility and enable light to be manipulated for remote sensing or long-haul communications.

Modelling negative thermal expansion

Materials World magazine
Scientists have devised a model to minimise thermal expansion on a structures such as bridges and fuel cells. By having at least one component that has a different thermal expansion coefficient from the rest, researchers can display thermal expansion.
Copper alloy moulds

Copper increases efficiency in injection moulding

Packaging Professional magazine
Replacing traditional steel moulds with those made from copper alloys could make injection moulding of plastic packaging more productive, according to research led by UK-based Copperplas International Ltd. Project Aimtech aims to reduce cycle time and improve finish quality to increase competiveness with the rapidly developing Chinese supply chain. Copper alloy moulds are five to six times more thermally conductive than steel for injecting molten plastic at high pressure.
Natural fibre-based packaging

Nanoclays modified with crustacean shells

Packaging Professional magazine
Scientists at Sheffield Hallam University, UK, have modified nanoclays with molecules from the shells of crustaceans and dispensed them in natural polymers, such as starch, to create natural fibre-based packaging a viable alternative to petroleum based-polymers. The research is part of the four-year European Sustainpack project bringing together packaging research associations, academia and industry from 13 European countries. The scheme, which is due to end in 2008, aims to encourage widespread use of biopolymers, paper and board for packaging.