• Self-supervised monocular image depth learning and confidence estimation

      Chen, Long; Tang, Wen; Wan, Tao Ruan; John, Nigel W.; Bournemouth University; University of Bradford; University of Chester
      We present a novel self-supervised framework for monocular image depth learning and confidence estimation. Our framework reduces the amount of ground truth annotation data required for training Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs), which is often a challenging problem for the fast deployment of CNNs in many computer vision tasks. Our DepthNet adopts a novel fully differential patch-based cost function through the Zero-Mean Normalized Cross Correlation (ZNCC) to take multi-scale patches as matching and learning strategies. This approach greatly increases the accuracy and robustness of the depth learning. Whilst the proposed patch-based cost function naturally provides a 0-to-1 confidence, it is then used to self-supervise the training of a parallel network for confidence map learning and estimation by exploiting the fact that ZNCC is a normalized measure of similarity which can be approximated as the confidence of the depth estimation. Therefore, the proposed corresponding confidence map learning and estimation operate in a self-supervised manner and is a parallel network to the DepthNet. Evaluation on the KITTI depth prediction evaluation dataset and Make3D dataset show that our method outperforms the state-of-the-art results.
    • The sharp interface limit for the stochastic Cahn-Hilliard Equation

      Antonopoulou, Dimitra; Bloemker, Dirk; Karali, Georgia D.; Universiy of Chester (IMS Journals, 2018-02-19)
      We study the two and three dimensional stochastic Cahn-Hilliard equation in the sharp interface limit, where the positive parameter \eps tends to zero, which measures the width of transition layers generated during phase separation. We also couple the noise strength to this parameter. Using formal asymptotic expansions, we identify the limit. In the right scaling we indicate that the solutions of stochastic Cahn-Hilliard converge to a solution of a Hele-Shaw problem with stochastic forcing. In the case when the noise is sufficiently small, we rigorously prove that the limit is a deterministic Hele-Shaw problem. Finally, we discuss which estimates are necessary in order to extend the rigorous result to larger noise strength.
    • Shock Reliability Enhancement for MEMS Vibration Energy Harvesters with Nonlinear Air Damping as Soft Stopper

      Chen, Shao-Tuan; Du, Sijun; Arroyo, Emmanuelle; Jia, Yu; Seshia, Ashwin A.; University of Cambridge; University of Chester (IOP Publishing, 2017-09-20)
      This paper presents a novel application of utilising nonlinear air damping as soft mechanical stopper to increase the shock reliability for MEMS vibration energy harvesters. Theoretical framework for nonlinear air damping is constructed for MEMS vibration energy harvesters operating in different air pressure levels, and characterisation experiments are conducted to establish the relationship between air pressure and nonlinear air damping coefficient for rectangular cantilever MEMS micro cantilevers with different proof masses. Design guidelines on choosing the optimal air pressure level for different MEMS vibration energy harvesters based on the trade-off between harvestable energy and the device robustness is presented, and random excitation experiments are performed to verify the robustness of MEMS vibration energy harvesters with nonlinear air damping as soft stoppers to limit the maximum deflection distance and increase the shock reliability of the device.
    • A Silanol-Functionalized Polyoxometalate with Excellent Electron Transfer Mediating Behavior to ZnO and TiO 2 Cathode Interlayers for Highly Efficient and Extremely Stable Polymer Solar Cells

      Tountas, Marinos; Topal, Yasemin; Verykios, Apostolos; Soultati, Anastasia; Kaltzoglou, Andreas; Papadopoulos, Theodoros A.; Auras, Florian; Seintis, Kostas; Fakis, Mihalis; Palilis, Leonidas C.; et al. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2017-12-21)
      Combining high efficiency and long lifetime under ambient conditions still poses a major challenge towards commercialization of polymer solar cells. Here we report a facile strategy that can simultaneously enhance the efficiency and temporal stability of inverted photovoltaic architectures. Inclusion of a silanol-functionalized organic–inorganic hybrid polyoxometalate derived from a PW9O34 lacunary phosphotungstate anion, namely (nBu4N)3[PW9O34(tBuSiOH)3], significantly increases the effectiveness of the electron collecting interface, which consists of a metal oxide such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, and leads to a high efficiency of 6.51% for single-junction structures based on poly(3-hexylthiophene):indene-C60 bisadduct (P3HT:IC60BA) blends. The above favourable outcome stems from a large decrease in the work function, an effective surface passivation and a decrease in the surface energy of metal oxides which synergistically result in the outstanding electron transfer mediating capability of the functionalized polyoxometalate. In addition, the insertion of a silanol-functionalized polyoxometalate layer significantly enhances the ambient stability of unencapsulated devices which retain nearly 90% of their original efficiencies (T90) after 1000 hours.
    • Simulation of grain boundary diffusion creep: Analysis of some new numerical techniques

      Ford, Judith M.; Ford, Neville J.; Wheeler, John (Royal Society, 2004)
    • Simultaneous determination of dopamine, uric acid and estriol in maternal urine samples based on the synergetic effect of reduced graphene oxide, silver nanowires and silver nanoparticles in their ternary 3D nanocomposite

      Zhao, Qian; Faraj, Yousef; Liu, Lu Yue; Wang, Wei; Xie, Rui; Liu, Zhuang; Ju, Xiao Jie; Wei, Jie; Chu, Liang Yin; University of Chester; Sichuan University
      A facile and efficient electrochemical biosensing platform based on screen printed carbon electrode (SPCE) modified with three-dimensional (3D) nanocomposite consists of reduced graphene oxide (RGO) with the insertion of silver nanowires (AgNWs) followed by the anchoring of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) is constructed as RGO/AgNWs/AgNPs/SPCE for the simultaneous determination of dopamine (DA), uric acid (UA) and estriol (EST). The morphology characteristic and surface elemental composition of RGO/AgNWs/AgNPs nanocomposite are investigated by field-emission scanning electron microscope, transmission electron microscope and X-ray photoelectron spectroscope. Cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, linear sweep voltammetry and differential pulse voltammetry are utilized to explore the electrochemical performances of the constructed electrodes. Due to abundant active sites and excellent electrocatalytic activity of the nanocomposite, the RGO/AgNWs/AgNPs/SPCE sensor exhibits well-resolved oxidation peaks and enhanced oxidation peak currents in the ternary mixture of DA, UA and EST with respective linear response ranges of 0.6 to 50 μM, 1 to 100 μM and 1 to 90 μM and detection limits (S/N = 3) of 0.16 μM, 0.58 μM and 0.58 μM, respectively. Moreover, the constructed biosensor exhibits good selectivity, reproducibility and stability, and excellent performance in determining DA, UA and EST in synthetic urine samples with excellent recovery. The results reveal that the RGO/AgNWs/AgNPs nanocomposite is a promising candidate for advanced electrode material in electrochemical sensing field and possesses great application prospects in further sensing researches.
    • A single parameter approach to enhance the microstructural and mechanical properties of beta Ti-Nb alloy via open-air fiber laser nitriding

      Chan, Chi-Wai; Chang, Xianwen; Bozorgzadeh, Mohammad Amin; Smith, Graham C; Lee, Seunghwan; Queen's University Belfast, Technical University of Denmark, University of Chester (Elsevier, 2019-12-13)
      In this study, the idea of applying open-air laser nitriding to improve the microstructural and mechanical properties of beta Ti-45 at.% Nb alloy was demonstrated. Surface cracking after laser nitriding is one of the main reasons impeding direct translation of the laser nitriding technique from the laboratories to industries as cracks can be the weak points to initiate mechanical and corrosion failures in long-term usage. With proper selection of duty cycle (DC) between 40% (modulated mode) and 100% (continuous wave, CW mode) to control the laser energy input and laser-material-gas interaction time, the cracking problems of laser nitriding can be alleviated and even solved. A crack-free and uniformly gold-coloured nitrided surface was successfully obtained at the DC of 40% in this study. The morphology, microstructure, composition and mechanical properties of the nitrided samples were studied and analysed by optical microscopy (OM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), SEM-energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Vickers micro-hardness tests. The OM results indicated that minimum overlapping between the laser tracks would give desirable results to obtain the crack-free surface. The measurements from the SEM micrographs indicated the depth of the laser-nitrided areas ranged between 22 and 43 µm. The XRD findings showed that a clear conversion of the TiNb surface to a nitride as a result of laser nitriding was observed. The maximum hardness, as measured by the Vickers method in cross-sections, lay in the range of 780 to 870 HV after laser nitriding. To summarise, control of DC to obtain a crack free and quality surface via fiber laser nitriding in open air is a simpler and quicker approach in comparison with the conventional substrate preheating and nitrogen (N) dilution approaches. The single-parameter approach is more efficient than parameter optimisation via design of experiments (DOE) employed in conventional methods.
    • Sketching Designs Using the Five Design-Sheet Methodology

      Roberts, Jonathan C.; Headleand, Christopher J.; Ritsos, Panagiotis D.; University of Bangor, University of Bangor, University of Chester (IEEE, 2015-08-12)
      Sketching designs has been shown to be a useful way of planning and considering alternative solutions. The use of lo-fidelity prototyping, especially paper-based sketching, can save time, money and converge to better solutions more quickly. However, this design process is often viewed to be too informal. Consequently users do not know how to manage their thoughts and ideas (to first think divergently, to then finally converge on a suitable solution). We present the Five Design Sheet (FdS) methodology. The methodology enables users to create information visualization interfaces through lo-fidelity methods. Users sketch and plan their ideas, helping them express different possibilities, think through these ideas to consider their potential effectiveness as solutions to the task (sheet 1); they create three principle designs (sheets 2,3 and 4); before converging on a final realization design that can then be implemented (sheet 5). In this article, we present (i) a review of the use of sketching as a planning method for visualization and the benefits of sketching, (ii) a detailed description of the Five Design Sheet (FdS) methodology, and (iii) an evaluation of the FdS using the System Usability Scale, along with a case-study of its use in industry and experience of its use in teaching.
    • SLAM-based dense surface reconstruction in monocular Minimally Invasive Surgery and its application to Augmented Reality

      Chen, Long; Tang, Wen; John, Nigel W.; Wan, Tao R.; Zhang, Jian Jun; Bournemouth University; University of Chester; University of Bradford (Elsevier, 2018-02-08)
      Background and Objective While Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) offers considerable benefits to patients, it also imposes big challenges on a surgeon's performance due to well-known issues and restrictions associated with the field of view (FOV), hand-eye misalignment and disorientation, as well as the lack of stereoscopic depth perception in monocular endoscopy. Augmented Reality (AR) technology can help to overcome these limitations by augmenting the real scene with annotations, labels, tumour measurements or even a 3D reconstruction of anatomy structures at the target surgical locations. However, previous research attempts of using AR technology in monocular MIS surgical scenes have been mainly focused on the information overlay without addressing correct spatial calibrations, which could lead to incorrect localization of annotations and labels, and inaccurate depth cues and tumour measurements. In this paper, we present a novel intra-operative dense surface reconstruction framework that is capable of providing geometry information from only monocular MIS videos for geometry-aware AR applications such as site measurements and depth cues. We address a number of compelling issues in augmenting a scene for a monocular MIS environment, such as drifting and inaccurate planar mapping. Methods A state-of-the-art Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) algorithm used in robotics has been extended to deal with monocular MIS surgical scenes for reliable endoscopic camera tracking and salient point mapping. A robust global 3D surface reconstruction framework has been developed for building a dense surface using only unorganized sparse point clouds extracted from the SLAM. The 3D surface reconstruction framework employs the Moving Least Squares (MLS) smoothing algorithm and the Poisson surface reconstruction framework for real time processing of the point clouds data set. Finally, the 3D geometric information of the surgical scene allows better understanding and accurate placement AR augmentations based on a robust 3D calibration. Results We demonstrate the clinical relevance of our proposed system through two examples: a) measurement of the surface; b) depth cues in monocular endoscopy. The performance and accuracy evaluations of the proposed framework consist of two steps. First, we have created a computer-generated endoscopy simulation video to quantify the accuracy of the camera tracking by comparing the results of the video camera tracking with the recorded ground-truth camera trajectories. The accuracy of the surface reconstruction is assessed by evaluating the Root Mean Square Distance (RMSD) of surface vertices of the reconstructed mesh with that of the ground truth 3D models. An error of 1.24mm for the camera trajectories has been obtained and the RMSD for surface reconstruction is 2.54mm, which compare favourably with previous approaches. Second, in vivo laparoscopic videos are used to examine the quality of accurate AR based annotation and measurement, and the creation of depth cues. These results show the potential promise of our geometry-aware AR technology to be used in MIS surgical scenes. Conclusions The results show that the new framework is robust and accurate in dealing with challenging situations such as the rapid endoscopy camera movements in monocular MIS scenes. Both camera tracking and surface reconstruction based on a sparse point cloud are eff active and operated in real-time. This demonstrates the potential of our algorithm for accurate AR localization and depth augmentation with geometric cues and correct surface measurements in MIS with monocular endoscopes.
    • Smart guaranteed time-slot allocation algorithm for industrial wireless sensor networks emergency message transmission

      Chen, Qinyin; Hu, Yanting; Chen, Zhe; Davies, John N.; Excell, Peter (IET, 2015-04-01)
      This paper presents investigation on application of wireless sensor networks (WSNs) in wind power generation systems and highlights an important issue associated with the deadline for the delivery of messages among nodes based on the IEEE 802.15.4E standard. Owing to the limits of standard and the power system application requirements, this research proposes a smart guaranteed time slot (S-GTS) allocation algorithm which is based on the urgent/important matrix. This proposed algorithm promotes the utilisation of contention free period in a superframe. Besides, over seven GTSs can be allocated in a superframe, there are only seven GTSs that can be used in the standard. In addition, this study proves the value of BO and SO upper bound is 6 for the WSN application in power systems. Moreover, the network delay of S-GTS performs better than the 16-time-slot mechanism and i-GAME mechanism.
    • Solution map methods for stability analysis of linear and nonlinear Volterra difference equations

      Edwards, John T.; Ford, Neville J. (Institute of Applied Science & Computations, 2004)
    • Solution of a singular integral equation by a split-interval method

      Diogo, Teresa; Ford, Neville J.; Lima, Pedro M.; Thomas, Sophy M. (2007)
      This article discusses a new numerical method for the solution of a singular integral equation of Volterra type that has an infinite class of solutions. The split-interval method is discussed and examples demonstrate its effectiveness.
    • Some time stepping methods for fractional diffusion problems with nonsmooth data

      Yang, Yan; Yan, Yubin; Ford, Neville J.; Lvliang University; University of Chester (De Gruyter, 2017-09-02)
      We consider error estimates for some time stepping methods for solving fractional diffusion problems with nonsmooth data in both homogeneous and inhomogeneous cases. McLean and Mustapha \cite{mclmus} (Time-stepping error bounds for fractional diffusion problems with non-smooth initial data, Journal of Computational Physics, 293(2015), 201-217) established an $O(k)$ convergence rate for the piecewise constant discontinuous Galerkin method with nonsmooth initial data for the homogeneous problem when the linear operator $A$ is assumed to be self-adjoint, positive semidefinite and densely defined in a suitable Hilbert space, where $k$ denotes the time step size. In this paper, we approximate the Riemann-Liouville fractional derivative by Diethelm's method (or $L1$ scheme) and obtain the same time discretisation scheme as in McLean and Mustapha \cite{mclmus}. We first prove that this scheme has also convergence rate $O(k)$ with nonsmooth initial data for the homogeneous problem when $A$ is a closed, densely defined linear operator satisfying some certain resolvent estimates. We then introduce a new time discretization scheme for the homogeneous problem based on the convolution quadrature and prove that the convergence rate of this new scheme is $O(k^{1+ \alpha}), 0<\alpha <1 $ with the nonsmooth initial data. Using this new time discretization scheme for the homogeneous problem, we define a time stepping method for the inhomogeneous problem and prove that the convergence rate of this method is $O(k^{1+ \alpha}), 0<\alpha <1 $ with the nonsmooth data. Numerical examples are given to show that the numerical results are consistent with the theoretical results.
    • Space Phased Array Antenna Developments: A Perspective on Structural Design

      Wang, Congsi; Wang, Yan; Lian, Peiyuan; Xu, Qian; Shi, Yu; Jia, Yu; Du, Biao; Liu, Jing; Tang, Baofu; Xue, Song; et al.
    • Space-Time Discontinuous Galerkin Methods for the '\eps'-dependent Stochastic Allen-Cahn Equation with mild noise

      Antonopoulou, Dimitra; Department of Mathematics, University of Chester, UK (Oxford University Press, 2019-04-08)
      We consider the $\eps$-dependent stochastic Allen-Cahn equation with mild space- time noise posed on a bounded domain of R^2. The positive parameter $\eps$ is a measure for the inner layers width that are generated during evolution. This equation, when the noise depends only on time, has been proposed by Funaki in [15]. The noise although smooth becomes white on the sharp interface limit as $\eps$ tends to zero. We construct a nonlinear dG scheme with space-time finite elements of general type which are discontinuous in time. Existence of a unique discrete solution is proven by application of Brouwer's Theorem. We first derive abstract error estimates and then for the case of piece-wise polynomial finite elements we prove an error in expectation of optimal order. All the appearing constants are estimated in terms of the parameter $\eps$. Finally, we present a linear approximation of the nonlinear scheme for which we prove existence of solution and optimal error in expectation in piece-wise linear finite element spaces. The novelty of this work is based on the use of a finite element formulation in space and in time in 2+1-dimensional subdomains for a nonlinear parabolic problem. In addition, this problem involves noise. These type of schemes avoid any Runge-Kutta type discretization for the evolutionary variable and seem to be very effective when applied to equations of such a difficulty.
    • Spreadsheet tools to estimate the thermal transmittance and thermal conductivities of gas spaces of an Insulated Glazing Unit

      Nammi, Sathish K.; Shirvani, Hassan; Shirvani, Ayoub; Edwards, Gerard; Dunn, Jeremy; Anglia Ruskin University, Anglia Ruskin University, Anglia Ruskin University, University of Chester, Glazing Vision (Anglia Ruskin Research Online, 2014-03-31)
      An Insulated Glazing unit (IGU) is constructed with two or more layers of glass panes sealed together by gas spaces in-between. IGUs are prevalent in windows, doors and rooflights, primarily due to their improved thermal resistance. Today, most IGUs are either two or three layered. Adding further layers of glass improves thermal insulation but with the penalty of increased cost and weight. Low emissivity (Low-e) film coatings, when deposited on the glass panes, reduce long-wavelength radiative heat losses. Furthermore, filling the gas spaces with the inert gases (e.g. Argon, Krypton, Xenon and SF6), further reduce conduction and natural convection across the gap. In summary, higher thermal insulation performance of an IGU can be achieved with gas fillings and Low-e coatings on glass. This report discusses spreadsheets that have been developed, capable of estimating the thermal transmittance values of IGU, as per BS EN 673. The spreadsheet tools also have the ability to estimate the thermal conductivity of the gas spaces between the panes of IGU.
    • SrFe12O19 based ceramics with ultra-low dielectric loss in the millimetre-wave band

      Yu, Chuying; Zeng, Yang; Yang, Bin; Wylde, Richard; Donnan, Robert S.; Wu, Jiyue; Xu, Jie; Gao, Feng; Abrahams, Isaac; Reece, Michael J.; et al. (AIP Publishing, 2018-04-02)
      Non-reciprocal devices such as isolators and circulators, based mainly on ferromagnetic materials, require extremely low dielectric loss in order for strict power-link budgets to be met for millimetre (mm)-wave and terahertz (THz) systems. The dielectric loss of commercial SrFe12O19 hexaferrite was significantly reduced to below 0.002 in the 75 - 170 GHz band by thermal annealing. While the overall concentration of Fe2+ and oxygen vacancy defects is relatively low in the solid, their concentration at the surface is significantly higher, allowing for a surface sensitive technique such as XPS to monitor the Fe3+/Fe2+ redox reaction. Oxidation of Fe2+ and a decrease in oxygen vacancies is found at the surface on annealing, which is reflected in the bulk sample by a small change in unit cell volume. The significant decrease in dielectric loss property can be attributed to the decreased concentration of charged defects such as Fe2+ and oxygen vacancies through annealing process, which demonstrated that thermal annealing could be effective in improving the dielectric performance of ferromagnetic materials for various applications.
    • Stability analysis of a continuous model of mutualism with delay dynamics

      Roberts, Jason A.; Joharjee, Najwa G.; University of Chester; King Abdul Aziz University (Hikari Ltd, 2016-05-31)
      In this paper we introduce delay dynamics to a coupled system of ordinary differential equations which represent two interacting species exhibiting facultative mutualistic behaviour. The delays are represen- tative of the beneficial effects of the indirect, interspecies interactions not being realised immediately. We show that the system with delay possesses a continuous solution, which is unique. Furthermore we show that, for suitably-behaved, positive initial functions that this unique solution is bounded and remains positive, i.e. both of the components representing the two species remain greater than zero. We show that the system has a positive equilibrium point and prove that this point is asymptotically stable for positive solutions and that this stability property is not conditional upon the delays.
    • Stability of a numerical method for a fractional telegraph equation

      Yan, Yubin; Xiao, Jingyu; Ford, Neville J.; University of Chester, Harbin Institute of Technology (De Gruyter, 2012-0-01)
      In this paper, we introduce a numerical method for solving the time-space fractional telegraph equations. The numerical method is based on a quadrature formula approach and a stability condition for the numerical method is obtained. Two numerical examples are given and the stability regions are plotted.
    • Stability, structural stability and numerical methods for fractional boundary value problems

      Ford, Neville J.; Morgado, Maria L.; University of Chester ; University of Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro (Birkhauser, 2013-01-31)