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.


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.


Under typical conditions on Earth, ice exhibits two distinct polytypes: hexagonal and cubic. Yet, despite its importance to nature (e.g. the atmosphere) and technology (e.g. cryopreservation), the crystallization of liquid water to cubic ice has never been achieved in the lab nor directly observed in nature.

Sean Kavannagh V_Cd_TOC.jpg

Using state-of-the-art ab-initio defect techniques, three TYC researchers finally reconcile theoretical predictions with experimental observations for the cadmium vacancy, a prominent acceptor species in p-type CdTe (Cadmium telluride), a stable crystalline compound mainly used in commercially-important thin-film photovoltaic technology.

Enhanced Spin−Orbit Coupling in Heavy Metals via Molecular Coupling.jpg

5d electron comprising metals are used in electronics because of their high spin−orbit coupling (SOC) leading to efficient spin-electric conversion (e.g. the spin Hall, spin torque, and spin Seebeck effects). Development of new routes to dynamic external control of SOC, ideally based on sustainable and benign materials, would be highly desirable for emerging low-power computing technologies such as spin-transfer torque memories and pure spin current circuits.


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