About Thomas Dane

Soft matter chemistry / X-ray scattering / Python programming for data analysis and visualisation

New term, new students

The new academic year has begun and with it the FRG welcomes the new PhD students, Carl and Ben Mills, and Masters by Research student, Zhonghua. We also welcome this year’s undergraduate students, Lizzy, Ben and Fraser.

FRG (left to right): Geri, Tom, Zhongua, Lizzy, Ben Mills, Ben Merivale, Charl, Emily, Felicitas, Alex, Saravanan, Carl, Angel, James. Absent: Ben Brown & Fraser & Ke

2014: International Year of Crystallography

The International Union of Crystallography (IUCr), with support from the UN, has proclaimed 2014 to be the International Year of Crystallography! The celebration marks the centenary of two landmark discoveries that have changed the way we understand our world. Max von Laue demonstrated that crystals diffract a beam of X-rays (Nobel prize 1914) and the Braggs (father and son) soon after proved that the diffraction pattern can be used to determine the 3-dimensional arrangement of atoms within the crystal (Nobel prize 1915). Almost 100 years later, we rely on these discoveries in a huge range scientific disciplines including physics, chemistry, materials science, medicine and nanotechnology.

The aims of the International Year of Crystallography include fostering international collaborations between scientists, increasing public awareness of the importance of crystallography in everyday life and to promote education on the subject, especially in parts of the world that are currently lacking adequate funding. Crystallography is particularly useful for us in the Faul Research Group as the properties of the materials we work with are ultimately determined by the structure and organization of the constituent molecules. To celebrate, here is one of my diffraction patterns that I have titled Tequila Sunrise for obvious reasons!

Tom’s work highlighted in the Diamond Annual Review

My recent Soft Matter paper has been highlighted in the Diamond Light Source Annual review. Diamond is a synchrotron radiation facility near Oxford, UK that generates intense beams of radiation (from hard X-rays through to infra-red). The annual review contains highlights of research performed across the synchrotron over the past year. The report demonstrates the broad range of science currently undertaken at the facility including magnetic resonance imaging as a tool for understanding Alzheimer’s disease, structural analysis of influenza antibodies and my surface diffraction studies of conducting organic thin films. See the following link for the review:


Tom at the ACS Colloids Meeting

This week I have been in Baltimore, MD (USA) for the 86th Annual Colloids and Surface Science Symposium. The meeting was held at Johns Hopkins University, a beautiful, leafy campus with grand red brick and marble halls.

The conference was organised over 3 days and featured 7 parallel sessions each day in addition to a variety of plenary and award lectures. The science was fascinating, with topics covering the fundamentals of the hydrophobic interaction, micro-scale self-folding origami structures, and biological and environmental applications. I presented my talk, “Oligo(aniline) nanofilms via ionic self-assembly”, on the 2nd day within the Molecular Assembly section, which also featured talks on poly(electrolyte)-surfactant complexation and other surface self-assembly.

The conference banquet was held on the evening of the second day at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Highlights of the food on offer were the local specialties of crab cakes and steamed crab!

Check out the picture gallery for some shots of Johns Hopkins University, me presenting and the conference banquet at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

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Hangzhou – fish, tea and lectures!

Zhixiang and Charl enjoyed a relaxing day on Sunday, walking along the famous West Lake in Hangzhou and enjoyed some local fish for lunch.  After lunch and a boat trip across the lake, they headed up to Longjin village, famous for it’s excellent tea! We sampled some of the local produce and Zhixiang bargained with the owner of the tea shop about the price of various teas.  Finally, after a deal was struck, the lady took us out into the woods and up the hills to their farm! Fascinating stuff! On Monday both Zhixiang and Charl give a lecture at the Institute of Polymer Science and Engineering, Zhijiang University in Hangzhou (host: Prof Gao Chao) before heading off to Shanghai Jiaotong University.