Its roots go back to 1843 with the establishment of the Nottingham Government School of Design which still exists within the university today. It is the 16th largest university in the UK (out of 165) with 26,890 students split over three different campuses.
Nottingham Trent University was ranked in the number 700 and above (701+) category in the world by the QS World University Rankings. In 2008 The Complete University Guide named Nottingham Trent the “top post-1992 University” in the country. The university has “one of the best employability records of any university in England and Wales”. It maintains close ties to over 6,000 businesses and 94% of students progress to full-time employment or further education within six months of graduating.
The Guardian calls Nottingham Trent “the most environmentally friendly university in the country”.
In 2009 it was awarded the title of “the most environmentally friendly university in the UK”, by The People & Planet Green League (the only independent ranking of British universities’ environmental and ethical performance). Also since 2009, 100% of the university’s electricity has been generated by renewable sources.
The university has a strong research arm with, in 2008, 74% of the university’s research considered of “international status” and “an impressive 8% ranked as world-leading”. The 2014 REF upgraded the status of the university’s research, with 90% considered of either “world-leading”, “internationally-excellent”, or “internationally-recognised” status. In November 2015, the university was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, “the highest national honour for a UK University” based on numerous research projects.
How would you like a kitchen surface that cleans itself? Technological advances such as this could be one step closer after a breakthrough by Northumbria University and Nottingham Trent University.
Using experimental techniques, researchers have made the first ever direct observation of the elusive dewetting process, which takes place when a liquid film retracts to form a bead-shaped drop. The achievement could now spark a new line of research and lead to breakthroughs involving the use of liquids, such as better coatings and more effective self-cleaning surfaces.
Dewetting is the opposite of ‘spreading’, a familiar process which can be observed day to day, such as when a drop of oil is placed on the surface of a pan. The liquid initially has a bead-like shape, and it slowly spreads to form a thin film. The opposite process, called dewetting, occurs when a liquid film retracts from a solid to form a bead-shaped drop, which can be observed when a wet window is left to dry up.
The details of dewetting are extremely important to any situation involving the removal or drying of a liquid. Despite its apparent simplicity, the direct observation of the full dewetting of a droplet into a single drop had remained elusive and difficult to achieve until Northumbria and Nottingham Trent’s recent experiment.
In a recent paper in the journal Science Advances, the research team came up with an ingenious solution to this problem. Using a novel method known as dielectrowetting, they exploited the electric properties of liquids to force a liquid to coat a solid surface using an applied voltage.
Professor Glen McHale, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Engineering and Environment) at Northumbria University and Professor of Applied and Material Physics, said: “Our experimental setup opens-up the possibility of preparing liquid shapes in a very controlled manner, which then dewet. This can lead to new methods for liquid manipulation in technologies such as coating and self-cleaning surfaces.”
By embedding very thin patterned electrodes in the solid and carefully arranging them into a circular pattern, the team achieved the formation of a thin circular liquid film. By switching off the voltage, they revealed, for the first time, the full dewetting process of the liquid film back to a bead-like drop shape.
Professor Carl Brown, Coordinator of the Nottingham Trent University Engineering Research Unit, and Professor of Physics in the School of Science and Technology, said: “At first sight, one might have expected that dewetting is just the time-reversal of spreading. Surprisingly, we found that dewetting not spreading in reverse. Instead of a smooth sequence of drop-like shapes, the dewetting film forms a rim at its own edge which retracts at constant speed for most of the dewetting process.”
To understand this behaviour, the team used a combination of theory and numerical simulations to rationalise the experiments. Dr Rodrigo Ledesma-Aguilar, from Northumbria, said: “Both the simulations and the theory support that the liquid tends to adopt the closest local equilibrium shape it can during dewetting. This explains the smooth rim shape which survives for most of the process.”
Nottingham Trent University’s Andrew Edwards, first author of the paper, said: “Unveiling the dynamics of a dewetting film in all its detail has been a mind-blowing experience. This is my first original contribution as a PhD student and has allowed me to apply a range of knowledge gained in my first degree as a physicist. It is extremely pleasing to see how our experiments are so well described by the theory and the simulations.”
Dr Michael Newton, Reader in Experimental Physics in the School of Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University, added: “Our method can be used to learn more about the underlying physics behind other dewetting phenomena such as condensation, evaporation and droplet rebound. These processes are critical for applications such as fog-collection, coating and lubrication. The technique developed can also be used for characterising liquid properties when only small volumes are available.”
Watch a video about the dewetting process here.
Learn more: It’s delightful, it’s dynamic, it’s dewetting!
Sensors in beehives may capture early signs of disease
To the human ear, the buzz of the honeybee can sound like one unchanging hum. Yet a group of researchers hopes that decoding tiny variations in the noise could help halt the catastrophic decline in the world’s honeybee population.
The researchers, led by a team at Nottingham Trent University in England, believe the changing sounds from a hive indicate swings in the bees’ state of health and that high-tech eavesdropping could provide beekeepers with early-warning signals. Supported by a $1.8-million grant from the European Union, the scientists aim to analyze the buzz from 20 hives kept at a village in rural southeastern France in a five-year experiment that started earlier this spring.
Team leader Martin Bencsik has previously used sensors known as accelerometers to capture a distinct change in bee sounds before the phenomenon known as swarming, which is when the queen quits the hive, taking many of the worker bees with her. The challenge this time is to identify variations in the buzz that can be linked to disease, including colony collapse disorder—a mysterious ailment that has weakened colonies around the world. The researchers’ key tool: industrial sensors designed to pick up subtle changes in vibration patterns. Embedded in the wall of the hive, miniature accelerometers will measure the vibrations in the honeycomb caused by the bees’ activity and the sounds they create. With no ears, bees are generally thought to rely on vibrations—received through their legs—to communicate with one another.