ImageJ is amazing


A long time ago in a lab about 20 miles away, I was working for a company called Mediwatch to develop a new micro-array platform that was internally named Zero-flow. It was a nifty little device that was excellent at controlling the flow of a sample over a sensor system. The company I worked for at the time was small and not flush with cash. So for a while the only resources allocated to the design and development of this technology was me. With this budget of £0 I needed to produce an assay system that could demonstrate sensitivity significant Continue reading

Vortex rings – suggestions please

Schematic of vortex ring formation

My project over the last 3 years could be summed up as “getting stuff to stick to fibre optic sensors”. The sensors were kindly prepared by various other members of the group (best ones were by Rebecca) and I was then responsible for finding the right material to coat on to the fibre to make it sensitive to X. Exciting stuff, I know. Most of my coating work was done using a technique called Langmuir Blodgett, the first stage of which is preparing monolayers of material spread on a large trough of water. These monolayers are explained in slightly more Continue reading

Lab books exposed


In academia and industry there is still a reluctance amongst many scientist to share the details of their work with the wider community. Science has a long history of publishing results in  peer-reviewed academic journals. However, a growing number of researchers think that there is scope for wider openness and access to more detail of their published work. I will leave the reasons why I support this open-access model to another time as it is really part of a bigger discussion about improving the dissemination of science to related fields and to the public. Shifting from the old model to one based around Continue reading

Brewster angle Lego microscope

Lego BAM

Brewster’s angle is the angle at which light of a certain polarisation won’t reflect off a surface. The resulting reflection will then be made up of only light from a single polarisation (p-polarised). This little optical quirk is how polarised lenses remove lots of scattered reflections in photographs and why polarised sunglasses are so much better when lounging by the seaside. However, rather than just being something that makes sunny days even better, it also provides a neat trick for visualising things that would otherwise be invisible to other analytical methods. Brewster’s angle for water is approximately 53.1°, which is calculated Continue reading

Paper published in Thin Solid Films

A comparison of a calix[4]resorcinarene monolayer with (bottom) and without (top) surfactant

The latest output from the collaboration between us physicists and those chemist in Cranfield Health has appeared in print in the journal Thin Solid Films. The best bits of the paper are summarised below. Calixarenes are bucket-like molecules that have been put to use in a number of approaches in sensors. By altering the active groups that are presented in  the calixarene, they can be made specific to certain agents.  The molecules have been proposed for applications ranging from uranium recovery, thorough VOC sensing to ion-selective sensing. This paper explores the properties of a number of calix-4-resorcinarenes along with their Continue reading