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Abstracts

Sofie Cambre

Nanoscale plumbing: Endohedral functionalisation of carbon nanotubes

The one-dimensional hollow structure of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), combined with smooth inner walls and a wide range of different chiral structures and diameters, makes them ideal nanocontainers for encapsulation of various molecules. In this talk, I will focus on the encapsulation of various molecules, ranging from small water molecules to elongated dipolar molecules, leading to peculiar phase transitions and specific stacking arrangements of the encapsulated molecules.

 

Filip Meysman

Microbial electricity: a surprise from the seafloor

Recently, long filamentous bacteria were discovered in marine sediments, capable of generating and mediating electricity over centimeter-scale distances. These so-called “cable bacteria” are multi-cellular and possess a unique energy metabolism, in which electrons are passed on from cell to cell along a chain of 10.000 cells. This microbial long-distance electron transport is a disruptive finding, both in terms of new biology as well as potential new technology. The capability of cable bacteria to transport electrons over centimeter distances implies that biological evolution must have developed a highly conductive, organic structure. If these conductive structures inside cable bacteria could be harnessed, entirely new materials and applications in bio-electronics might emerge.

 

Kris Laukens

Hacking the molecular patterns of life, from in vitro to in silico

Recent evolutions in biotechnology that allow us to systematically analyse the complex biomolecular composition (DNA, proteins, …) of an organism have transformed the life sciences into a data science discipline. Modern large scale data mining methods are needed to make sense of this avalanche of data. We present our journey, from the molecular wet lab to the computational data science lab, to reverse engineer the molecular networks that underlie living systems, and we show how this knowledge can lead to fundamental new insights as well as new biomedical applications.

 

Jonas Schoelynck

Hippo’s in Lake Victoria and their influence on the biogeochemistry of Si

The role of hippopotami in the biogeochemistry of the element silicon (Si) will be discussed, more specifically the flux of silicon from the Savannah towards the river they live in. After describing the role of Si and its effect on the climate and the primary production of nutrients in the oceans, the focus will be mainly on the contribution of the hippos in the Si cycle. An expedition to Kenya will be described where we found that hippos are up to 80% responsible for the Si flux from Lake Victoria, an essential necessity for the local fishery.

 

Sammy Verbruggen

Plasmonic photocatalysis for environmental and energy applications

Photocatalysis has emerged as a viable advanced oxidation process for environmental remediation, with only light as the required energy input. Most applications rely on TiO2 as the photocatalyst. One of the main limitations of this material is the large bandgap, restricting its use to UV light that only accounts for ca. 5% of the solar spectrum. A possible solution to expand the activity window to the entire UV-visible light range, is modifying the catalytic surface with noble metal nanoparticles that display (localized) surface plasmon resonance (SPR). In this talk the attractive features and potential applications of (plasmonic) photocatalysis will be explained.

 

Angela Privat Maldonado

Medical plasmas: can we fight cancer with the right plasma?

Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality. In the last decades, scientists have explored the use of low-temperature plasmas against cancer in vitro and in vivo. This partially ionized gas provides a tuneable cocktail of reactive species, photons and electrons able induce different responses in cells. Plasma can be administered in a localized manner, an advantage over traditional radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments. In this talk we will explore the types of plasma used in biomedicine and what are the main challenges that lie ahead for anticancer plasma therapies.

 

Christophe Segers

The search for an appropriate model to fit real-life data

Given a set of measurements - e.g. the impedance of an antenna or the outline of a profile - we often want to find the "best" model that fits those data. The definition of "best" usually depends on the context of the problem, as well as the kind of model. We look at different ways to measure the quality of an approximation - i.e. the use of different norms to minimise the error - and we consider various building blocks for the approximations.

 

Ben Van Duppen

Graphene in the spotlight: using 2D knowledge in a 3D world

Graphene is the thinnest material in the world. Being one atom thick, it  was for long believed, and even "proven", that it should not exist. Nonetheless, it was discovered in 2004 and turns out to feature a set of exceptional characteristics. Combined with the fact that a lot of new atomically thin materials have been discovered ever since, the research field of two-dimensional materials has become a vast field and is spanning topics from physics over chemistry to engineering. In this talk we place graphene in the spotlight and show how light and graphene can collaborate to form the basis of future opto-electronic devices.