The research groups of the Thomas Young Centre frequently publish important advances that are of interest to a wide multi-disciplinary audience. The items on our "Science Highlights" pages are short summaries of some of these advances, usually based on publications in high-impact journals.

First-principles design of a single-atom–alloy propane dehydrogenation catalyst.jpg

This work was part of a long-term collaboration between the groups of Charles Sykes (Tufts University), Angelos Michaelides (former TYC Director and Professor at UCL, now at the University of Cambridge) and Michail Stamatakis (UCL).

Notably, this collaboration was fostered at a TYC Soirée back in September 2012 and has led to significant advancements in our understanding of SAA catalysts. It has further delivered catalyst formulations that could address current inefficiencies in the catalyst industry and could result in large economic and environmental payoffs.

Unsupervised Learning Unravels the Structure of Four-Arm and Linear Block Copolymer Micelles.jpg

In this work, Ziolek and co-workers employed unsupervised machine learning techniques to provide new fundamental insights into the structure of self-assembled micelles from amphiphilic block copolymers.

cartilage rehydration.jpg
When loaded, cartilage starts to lose fluid, thus exudating and causing joint space to thin down: in a long term prospective, this may contribute to tissue degradation and to the insurgence of osteoarthritis, which, together with rheumatoid arthritis, costs £10.2 billion in the NHS and healthcare system now, and is expected to reach an estimated £118.6 billion in the next decade.

In this study we have provided an innovative theoretical formulation, corroborated by detailed experiments, which for the first time sheds the light on the hydrodynamic origins of rehydration in cartilage tissues.  Insights in cartilage rehydration can potentially provide a decisive change to our understanding of cartilage physiology and to our approach to the design of cartilage-mimicking materials.


Bile salts (BS) are biosurfactants released into the small intestine, which play key and contrasting roles in lipid digestion: they adsorb at interfaces and promote the adsorption of digestive enzymes onto fat droplets, while they also remove lipolysis products from that interface, solubilising them into mixed micelles. Small architectural variations in their chemical structure, specifically their bile acid moiety, are hypothesised to underlie these conflicting functionalities, which should be reflected in different aggregation and solubilisation behaviour.


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