• The early stages of biofilm formation by Staphylococcus epidermidis studied by XPS and AFM

      Smith, Graham; Bava, Radhika (University of Chester, 2019-09)
      Staphylococcus epidermidis is an opportunistic bacteria which forms pathogenic biofilms in medical implant environment. Biofilm formation is a complex multistage process within which the initial stages of adhesion are deemed the most critical target for preventing biofilms. This research involves the characterisation of S. epidermidis (ATCC35984 and NCTC13360) by using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) on model substrates including glass, muscovite mica, silicon (111) wafer, sputter-coated titanium and sputter-coated silver, focusing on the effect of chemical properties of the material on adhesion by using surfaces with minimal roughness. AFM was used to image the surface, from which bacterial coverage can be estimated. AFM was also used to probe adhesion forces and local mechanical properties of all samples through the use of force-distance curves. AFM images were also used to estimate the bacterial coverage. XPS was used to investigate the surface chemistry from the layer thicknesses, the percentage coverage and potential composition of the overlayer. The combination of these techniques allow the relationships between the surface chemistry of the substrate and the bacteria to be correlated with changes in coverage and properties of bacterial films. Data on incubated bacterial samples were compared with those from the reference substrates, both before and after autoclaving, and from samples prepared using protein rich growth medium (tryptic soy broth) in the absence of bacteria as well as a pure bacterial pellet in an assumed non-biofilm forming state. The research indicates the potential differences between biofilm and non-biofilm former strains, with both strains being covered by an organic layer with little influence of the growth media used to incubate the bacteria. This research also shows how XPS and AFM data can be combined and applied to bacterial adhesion.
    • Edge-based nonlinear diffusion for finite element approximations of convection–diffusion equations and its relation to algebraic flux-correction schemes

      Barrenechea, Gabriel; Burman, Erik; Karakatsani, Fotini; University of Strathclyde; University College London; University of Chester (Springer, 2016-05-07)
      For the case of approximation of convection–diffusion equations using piecewise affine continuous finite elements a new edge-based nonlinear diffusion operator is proposed that makes the scheme satisfy a discrete maximum principle. The diffusion operator is shown to be Lipschitz continuous and linearity preserving. Using these properties we provide a full stability and error analysis, which, in the diffusion dominated regime, shows existence, uniqueness and optimal convergence. Then the algebraic flux correction method is recalled and we show that the present method can be interpreted as an algebraic flux correction method for a particular definition of the flux limiters. The performance of the method is illustrated on some numerical test cases in two space dimensions.
    • Effect of cell-size on the energy absorption features of closed-cell aluminium foams

      Nammi, Sathish K.; Edwards, Gerard; Shirvani, Hassan; Anglia Ruskin University; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2016-07-02)
      The effect of cell-size on the compressive response and energy absorption features of closed-cell aluminium (Al) foam were investigated by finite element method. Micromechanical models were constructed with a repeating unit-cell (RUC) which was sectioned from tetrakaidecahedra structure. Using this RUC, three Al foam models with different cell-sizes (large, medium and small) and all of same density, were built. These three different cell-size pieces of foam occupy the same volume and their domains contained 8, 27 and 64 RUCs respectively. However, the smaller cell-size foam has larger surface area to volume ratio compared to other two. Mechanical behaviour was modelled under uniaxial loading. All three aggregates (3D arrays of RUCs) of different cell-sizes showed an elastic region at the initial stage, then followed by a plateau, and finally, a densification region. The smaller cell size foam exhibited a higher peak-stress and a greater densification strain comparing other two cell-sizes investigated. It was demonstrated that energy absorption capabilities of smaller cell-size foams was higher compared to the larger cell-sizes examined.
    • The effect of irradiation impinging on disparate anchoring configurations of polar-organic molecules adsorbed on bulk and thin-film metal surfaces

      Papadopoulos, Theodoros A.; Metz, Sebastian; Tang, Shu-Jung; University of Chester; Daresbury Laboratory; National Tsing-Hua University (Elsevier, 2019-07-11)
      The behavior of polar metal organic molecules, chloroaluminum phthalocyanine (ClAlPc), upon ultraviolet (UV) irradiation was investigated to evaluate the stability of the adsorption process on the Ag(111) thin film and bulk crystal. Angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy (ARPES) was mainly employed to measure the molecular energy states (MES) and vacuum level (VL) shift for 1-ML ClAlPc in the Cl-down configuration. A consistent trend was observed showing that ClAlPc in the Cl-down configuration is energetically more stable on the Ag thin-film surface than on the corresponding surface of the Ag bulk crystal. The intermediate adsorption state in tilted configuration during the irradiation impinging is identified by large positive VL shifts and broad spectra line shapes to infer a flipping mechanism from Cl-down to Cl-up configuration. Strain on the Ag thin films from the underlying mismatched Ge(111) substrate is considered to cause enlarged hollow sites on the Ag(111) thin-films, that anchor the Cl-down configuration more tightly on the thin-film surfaces, as confirmed by density functional theory (DFT) calculations.
    • Effect of laser treatment on the attachment and viability of mesenchymal stem cell responses on shape memory NiTi alloy

      Chan, Chi-Wai; Hussain, Issam; Waugh, David G.; Lawrence, Jonathan; Man, Hau-Chung; Queen's University, Belfast ; University of Lincoln ; University of Chester ; University of Chester ; Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Elsevier, 2014-05-22)
      The objectives of this study were to investigate the effect of laser-induced surface features on the morphology, attachment and viability of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) at different periods of time, and to evaluate the biocompatibility of different zones: laser-melted zone (MZ), heat-affected zone (HAZ) and base metal (BM) in laser-treated NiTi alloy.
    • Effect of surface micro-pits on mode-II fracture toughness of Ti-6Al-4V/PEEK interface

      Pan, Lei; Pang, Xiaofei; Wang, Fei; Huang, Haiqiang; Shi, Yu; Tao, Jie; Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics; University of Chester (Elsevier, 2019-08-17)
      Herein, the delamination issue of TiGr(TC4/PEEK/Cf) laminate is addressed by investigating the influence of TC4(Ti-6Al-4V) surface micro-pits on mode-II interfacial fracture toughness of TC4/PEEK interface through experimental and finite element modeling. The micro-pits unit cell, unit strip and the end notched flexure (ENF) models are established based on the finite element simulations and the effect of micro-pit size parameters is studied in detail. The results of micro-pits unit cell model reveal that the presence of micro-pits can effectively buffer the interfacial stress concentration under mode-II loading conditions. Furthermore, the micro-pits unit strip model, with different micro-pit sizes, is analyzed to obtain the interface parameters, which are converted and used in the ENF model. Both the unit strip and ENF models conclude that the presence of interfacial micro-pits effectively improves the mode-II fracture toughness. It is worth mentioning that the utilization of converted interface parameters in ENF model avoided the limitation of micro-pit size and reduced the workload. Finally, the experimental and computational ENF results exhibited excellent consistency and confirmed the reliability of the proposed finite element models. The current study provides useful guidelines for the design and manufacturing of high-performance TC4/PEEK interfaces for a wide range of applications.
    • Effect of Temperature and Catholyte Concentration on the Performance of a Chemically Regenerative Fuel Cell POM-based catholytes for platinum-free polymer electrolyte fuel cells

      Ward, David B.; Davies, Trevor J.; University of Chester (JOHNSON MATTHEY, plc, 2018-04-01)
      Chemically regenerative redox cathode (CRRC) polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) are attracting more interest as a platinum-free PEFC technology. These fuel cells utilise a liquid catalyst or catholyte, to perform the indirect reduction of oxygen, eliminating the major degradation mechanisms that plague PEFC durability. A key component of a CRRC PEFC system is the catholyte. This article reports a thorough study of the effect of catholyte concentration and temperature on CRRC PEFC system performance for H7PV4Mo8O40 and Na4H3PV4Mo8O40, two promising polyoxometalate (POM)-based catholytes. The results suggest 80ºC and a catholyte concentration of 0.3 M provide the optimum performance for both H7PV4Mo8O40 and Na4H3PV4Mo8O40 (for ambient pressure operation).
    • Effect of Temperature on Electromagnetic Performance of Active Phased Array Antenna

      Wang, Yan; Wang, Congsi; Lian, Peiyuan; Xue, Sone; Liu, Jing; Gao, Wei; Shi, Yu; Wang, Zhihai; Yu, Kunpeng; Peng, Xuelin; et al.
      Active phased array antennas (APAAs) can suffer from the effects of harsh thermal environments, which are caused by the large quantity of power generated by densely packed T/R modules and external thermal impacts. The situation may be worse in the case of limited room and severe thermal loads, due to heat radiation and a low temperature sink. The temperature field of the antenna can be changed. Since large numbers of temperature-sensitive electronic components exist in T/R modules, excitation current output can be significantly affected and the electromagnetic performance of APAAs can be seriously degraded. However, due to a lack of quantitative analysis, it is difficult to directly estimate the effect of temperature on the electromagnetic performance of APAAs. Therefore, this study investigated the electromagnetic performance of APAAs as affected by two key factors—the uniformly distributed temperature field and the temperature gradient field—based on different antenna shapes and sizes, to provide theoretical guidance for their thermal design.
    • Effects of inkjet printed toughener on delamination suppression in drilling of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRPs)

      Shi, Yu; Wang, Xiaonan; Wang, Fuji; Gu, Tianyu; Xie, Pengheng; Jia, Yu; University of Chester; Dalian University of Technology; Aston University
      Delamination has been recognised as the predominant damage induced during the drilling of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRPs). It could significantly reduce the bearing capacity and shorten the service life of the designed component. To enhance the delamination resistance of CFRPs for different applications, great affords have been done to improve their interlaminar fracture toughness. However, due to the difficulty in accurately controlling the amount of the toughener applied in the interface, effect of the toughener content on the toughening efficiency is rarely studied. In this work, an experimental research was developed to investigate the performance of the toughener on the improvement of delamination resistance in the drilling of CFRPs and parametrically optimise the toughener content with the consideration of different feed rates. Specifically, poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) solutions with various concentrations were selected to add on the CFRP prepreg, and co-cured together with layups. The inkjet printing technology was adopted to deposit the PMMA solutions for precisely controlled toughener contents. Through drilling experiments on the toughened CFRPs, it was found that the optimal content of the PMMA solution was 10 wt% to offer the least delamination, in particular, for the situation under the highest feed rate condition. The toughing mechanisms were also concluded by analysing the histories of the thrust force and torque in the drilling process. The results of this study is significantly contribute to the locally toughening of the composite interfaces and the improvement of the drilling quality, which is specifically helpful to strengthen the joint property for the structural design stage for the aircraft.
    • Effects of obesity on cholesterol metabolism and its implications for healthy ageing.

      Mc Auley, Mark Tomás; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2020-01-27)
      The last few decades have witnessed a global rise in the number of older people. Despite this demographic shift, morbidity within this population group is high. Many factors influence healthspan; however an obesity pandemic is emerging as a significant determinant of older peoples’ health. It is well established obesity adversely effects several metabolic systems. However, due to its close association with overall cardiometabolic health, the impact obesity has on cholesterol metabolism needs to be recognised. The aim of this review is to critically discuss the effects obesity has on cholesterol metabolism and to reveal its significance for healthy ageing.
    • Efficacy of a virtual environment for training ball passing skills in rugby

      Miles, Helen C.; Pop, Serban R.; Watt, Simon J.; Lawrence, Gavin P.; John, Nigel W.; Perrot, Vincent; Mallet, Pierre; Mestre, Daniel R.; Morgan, Kenton (Springer, 2014-07-14)
      We have designed a configurable virtual environment to train rugby ball passing skills. Seeking to validate the system’s ability to correctly aid training, two experiments were performed. Ten participants took part in ball passing activities, which were used to compare the combinations of different user positions relative to the physical screen, the use of stereoscopic presentation and the use of a floor screen to extend the field of view of the virtual scene. Conversely to what was expected, the results indicate that the participants did not respond well to simulated target distances, and only the users physical distance from the screen had an effect on the distance thrown.
    • An Efficient Inductor-less Dynamically Configured Interface Circuit for Piezoelectric Vibration Energy Harvesting

      Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2016-07-07)
      Vibration energy harvesting based on piezoelectric materials is of interest in several applications such as in powering remote distributed wireless sensor nodes for structural health monitoring. Synchronized Switch Harvesting on Inductor (SSHI) and Synchronous Electric Charge Extraction (SECE) circuits show good power efficiency among reported power management circuits; however, limitations exist due to inductors employed, adaption of response to varying excitation levels and the Synchronized Switch Damping (SSD) effect. In this paper, an inductor-less dynamically configured interface circuit is proposed, which is able to configure the connection of two piezoelectric materials in parallel or in series by periodically evaluating the ambient excitation level. The proposed circuit is designed and fabricated in a 0:35 μm HV CMOS process.The fabricated circuit is co-integrated with a piezoelectric bimorph energy harvester and the performance is experimentally validated. With a low power consumption (0:5 μW), the measured results show that the proposed rectifier can provide a 4.5 boost in harvested energy compared to the conventional full-bridge rectifier without employing an inductor. It also shows a high power efficiency over a wide range of excitation levels and is less susceptible to SSD.
    • Efficient solar cells are more stable: The impact of polymer molecular weight on performance of organic photovoltaics

      Ding, Ziqian; Kettle, Jeff; Horie, Masaki; Chang, Shu-Wi; Smith, Graham C.; Shames, Alexander I.; Katz, Eugene A.; University of Bangor (Ding, Kettle), National Tsing Hua Univeristy Taiwan (Horie, Chang), University of Chester (Smith), Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Shames, Katz) (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2016-04-14)
      The principle remaining challenge in the research area of organic photovoltaic (OPV) materials is to develop solar cells that combine high efficiency, stability and reproducibility. Here, we demonstrate an experimental strategy which has successfully addressed this challenge. We produced a number of samples of the highly efficient PTB7 polymer with various molecular weights (Mn 40–220k). OPV cells fabricated with this polymer demonstrated significant improvement of the cell efficiency (by 90% relative) and lifetime (by 300% relative) with the Mn increase. We attribute these effects to the lower density of recombination centers (persistent radical defects revealed by EPR spectroscopy) and better photoactive layer morphology in the samples with higher Mn. Relevance of the observed correlation between the OPV efficiency and stability is discussed.
    • An Efficient SSHI Interface With Increased Input Range for Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Under Variable Conditions

      Du, Sijun; Jia, Yu; Do, Cuong D.; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IEEE, 2016-08-10)
      Piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters have been widely researched and are increasingly employed for powering wireless sensor nodes. The synchronized switch harvesting on inductor (SSHI) circuit is one of the most efficient interfaces for piezoelectric vibration energy harvesters. However, the traditional incarnation of this circuit suffers from a significant start-up issue that limits operation in low and variable amplitude vibration environments. This paper addresses this start-up issue for the SSHI rectifier by proposing a new architecture with SSHI startup circuitry. The startup circuitry monitors if the SSHI circuit is operating correctly and re-starts the SSHI interface if required. The proposed circuit is comprehensively analyzed and experimentally validated through tests conducted by integrating a commercial piezoelectric vibration energy harvester with the new interface circuit designed in a 0.35-μm HV CMOS process. Compared to conventional SSHI rectifiers, the proposed circuit significantly decreases the required minimum input excitation amplitude before energy can be harvested, making it possible to extract energy over an increased excitation range.
    • Efficient Surrogate Model-Assisted Evolutionary Algorithm for Electromagnetic Design Automation with Applications

      Akinsolu, Mobayode, O. (University of ChesterWrexham Glyndŵr UniversityWrexham Glyndwr University, 2019-10)
      In this thesis, the surrogate model-aware evolutionary search (SMAS) framework is extended for efficient interactive optimisation of multiple criteria electromagnetic (EM) designs and/or devices through a novel method called two-stage interactive efficient EM micro-actuator design optimisation (TIEMO). The first robust analytical and behavioural study of the SMAS framework is also carried out in this thesis to serve as a guide for the meticulous selection of multiple differential evolution (DE) mutation strategies to make SMAS fit for use in parallel computing environments. Based on the study of SMAS and the self-adaptive use of the selected multiple DE mutation strategies and reinforcement learning techniques, a novel method, parallel surrogate model-assisted evolutionary algorithm for EM design (PSAED) is proposed. PSAED is tested extensively using mathematical benchmark problems and numerical EM design problems. For all cases, the efficiency improvement of PSAED compared to state-of-the-art evolutionary algorithms (EAs) is demonstrated by the several times up to about 20 times speed improvement observed and the high quality of design solutions. PSAED is then applied to real-world EM design problems as two purposebuilt methods for antenna design and optimisation and high-performance microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) design and optimisation in parallel computing environments, parallel surrogate model-assisted hybrid DE for antenna optimisation (PSADEA) and adaptive surrogate model-assisted differential evolution for MEMS optimisation (ASDEMO), respectively. For all the real-world antenna and MEMS design cases, PSAED methods obtain very satisfactory design solutions using an affordable optimisation time and comparisons are made with available alternative methods. Results from the comparisons show that PSAED methods obtain very satisfactory design solutions in all runs using an affordable optimisation time in each, whereas the alternative methods fail and/or seldom succeed to obtain feasible or satisfactory design solutions. PSAED methods also show better robustness and stability. In the future, PSAED methods will be embedded into commercial CAD/CEM tools and will be further extended for use in higher-order parallel clusters.
    • Eight parametric resonances in a multi-frequency wideband MEMS piezoelectric vibration energy harvester

      Jia, Yu; Du, Sijun; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IEEE, 2016-01-24)
      This paper presents a multi-order parametric resonant MEMS piezoelectric disk membrane, for the purpose of broadening the operational frequency bandwidth of a vibration energy harvester by employing the nonlinearity-induced bandwidth broadening associated with this phenomenon as well as the multi-frequency response associated with the higher orders. The fundamental mode -3dB bandwidth at 2.0 g recorded 55 Hz, while the first parametric resonant peak exhibited 365 Hz and the -3dB of the first 8 orders accumulated to 604 Hz. The membrane parametric resonator also experimentally demonstrated over 3-folds improvement in power density compared to a conventional direct resonator (cantilever), when subjected to band-limited white noise.
    • The electrochemical characterisation of graphite felts

      Smith, Robert E. G.; Davies, Trevor J.; Baynes, Nicholas de B.; Nichols, Richard J.; University of Liverpool ; University of Chester/ACAL Energy Limited ; ACAL Energy Limited ; University of Liverpool (Elsevier, 2015-03-25)
      With the increasing demand for advanced energy storage, redox flow batteries (RFBs) are a rapidly growing market and research area. Carbon fibre based materials like graphite felts (GFs) are commonly used in RFBs as electrodes due to their electrochemical activity, high permeability for liquids, high surface area and relatively low cost. Previous characterisation of GFs has involved flow systems, which can be complicated to replicate and expensive. Using pre-treatment techniques to ensure sufficient wetting, GFs can be used effectively in quiescent electrochemistry. By combining the experimental voltammograms with digital simulations, key properties such as capacitance, electrode kinetics, average pore size and electrochemical surface area can be determined. This allows for the rapid and low cost examination of multiple GFs and pre-treatment methods, providing a useful tool for RFB development. In addition, the GF electrodes used in the study show promising limit of detection values, with initial experiments suggesting these electrodes may have applications in electroanalysis.
    • Electrochemically Detecting DNA Methylation in the EN1 gene Promoter: Implications for understanding Ageing and Disease

      Morgan, Amy; Acutt, Katie; Mc Auley, Mark; University of Chester
      There is a growing need for biomarkers which predict age-onset pathology. Although this is challenging, the methylome offers significant potential. Cancer is associated with the hypermethylation of many gene promoters, among which are developmental genes. Evolutionary theory suggests developmental genes arbitrate early-late life trade-offs, causing epimutations that increase disease vulnerability. Such genes could predict age related disease. The aim of this work was to optimise an electrochemical procedure for the future investigation of a broad range of ageing related pathologies. An electrochemical approach, which adopted three analytical techniques, was used to investigate DNA methylation in the EN1 gene promoter. Using synthetic single stranded DNA, one technique was able to detect DNA at concentrations as low as 10nM, with methylation status distinguishable at concentrations >25nM. A negative correlation could be observed between % methylation of heterogeneous solution and the key electrochemical parameter, Rct (r = -0.982, p < 0.01). The technique was applied to the breast cancer cell line MCF-7, where a similar correlation was observed (r = -0.965, p < 0.01). These results suggest electrochemistry can effectively measure DNA methylation at low concentrations of DNA. This has implications for the future detection of age-related disease.
    • Electromagnetic wave absorption properties of ternary poly (vinylidene fluoride)/magnetite nanocomposites with carbon nanotubes and graphene

      Tsonos, Christos; Soin, Navneet; Tomara, Georgia N.; Yang, Bin; Psarras, Georgios C.; Kanapitsas, Athanasios; Siores, Elias; University of Chester (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015-12-21)
      Ternary nanocomposite systems of poly(vinylidene fluoride)/magnetite/carbon nanotube (PVDF/Fe3O4/CNT) and poly(vinylidene fluoride)/magnetite/graphene (PVDF/Fe3O4/GN), were prepared using high shear twin screw compounding followed by compression moulding. The electromagnetic (EM) microwave absorption properties of the nanocomposites were investigated in the frequency range of 3–10 GHz. PVDF/Fe3O4/CNT samples with the thickness d = 0.7 mm present a minimum reflection loss (RL) of −28.8 dB at 5.6 GHz, while all the RL values in the measurement frequency range 3–10 GHz are lower than −10 dB. PVDF/Fe3O4/GN with a thickness of 0.9 mm, presents a minimum RL of −22.6 dB at 5.4 GHz, while all the RL values in the measurement frequency range 3–10 GHz are lower than −10 dB as well. The excellent microwave absorption properties of both nanocomposites, in terms of minimum RL value and broad absorption bandwidth, are mainly due to the enhanced magnetic losses. The results indicate that the ternary nanocomposites studied here, can be used as an attractive candidate for EM absorption materials in diverse fields of various technological applications, not only in the frequency range 3–10 GHz, but also at frequencies <3 GHz for PVDF/Fe3O4/CNT and >10 GHz for PVDF/Fe3O4/GN with a realistic thickness of close to 1 mm.
    • An Endoscope Interface for Immersive Virtual Reality

      John, Nigel W.; Day, Thomas W.; Wardle, Terrence; University of Chester
      This is a work in progress paper that describes a novel endoscope interface designed for use in an immersive virtual reality surgical simulator. We use an affordable off the shelf head mounted display to recreate the operating theatre environment. A hand held controller has been adapted so that it feels like the trainee is holding an endoscope controller with the same functionality. The simulator allows the endoscope shaft to be inserted into a virtual patient and pushed forward to a target position. The paper describes how we have built this surgical simulator with the intention of carrying out a full clinical study in the near future.