University of Southampton research articles from Innovation Toronto
- Optical fibres light the way for brain-like computing – March 12, 2015
- Octopus robot makes waves with ultra-fast propulsion – February 6, 2015
- New research lights the way to super-fast computers – November 9, 2014
- Breakthrough technique offers the prospect of silicon detectors for telecommunications – October 5, 2014
- Levitating Cells with Ultrasonic Tweezers Provides a Sound Route to Bio-Engineering – June 4, 2014
- First hip surgery with a 3D printed implant and bone stem cell graft – May 17, 2014
- Experts call for urgent defence of deep-ocean – May 17, 2014
- Hybrid technology could make Star Trek-style tricorder a reality
- Climate Engineering – What do the public think?
- New radar system inspired by dolphins to detect hidden surveillance and explosive devices
- Diesel exhaust stops honeybees from finding the flowers they want to forage
- Portable, Low-Cost Early Warning Test For Osteoporosis
- New study discovers copper destroys highly infectious norovirus
- Fish Farms Cause Rapid Local Sea-Level Rise
- Breakthrough ‘shrinks’ childhood tumours
- Engineers gain new insight into turbulence that could lead to significant global energy savings
- Southampton engineers develop novel method to increase lifespan of joint replacements
- 5D optical memory in glass could record the last evidence of civilisation
- Research shows copper destroys norovirus
- Scientists propose revolutionary laser system to produce the next LHC
- Implants make light work of fixing broken bones
- Southampton scientists develops strongest, lightest glass nanofibres in the world
- New cells found that could help save people’s sight
- Breathable treatment to help prevent asthma attacks
- Riding the data wave
- New Battery Could Lead to Cheaper, More Efficient Solar Energy
- Experimental optical fibers utilize built-in electronics instead of separate chips
- 2-Degree Global Warming Limit Is Called a “Prescription for Disaster”
- Ultrasonic nozzle promises better cleaning with less water
- Build Music With Blocks: Audio D-Touch
- New tech uses silicon glass for data storage
- New Way to Manage Energy in the Smart Grid
- Engineers Fly the World’s First ‘Printed’ Aircraft
- Two new types of transistor may lead to simpler, more efficient computers
- New Online Mechanism for Electric Vehicle Charging
- Brain-to-brain communication over the Internet
- New control system will allow satellites to ‘think for themselves’
- Towards Healthier Communication: Social Networking Tools To Enhance Personal And Social Wellbeing
- New graphene transistor created with record high-switching performance
- ‘Wet’ Computing Systems to Boost Processing Power
- Global Network of New-Generation Telescopes Will Track Astrophysical Events as They Happen
- Fibre optic cables’ data capacity may soon be reached
- Ultimate In ‘Green’ Energy: Plants Inspire New Generation Of Solar Cells
Southampton is a research intensive university and a founding member of the Russell Group.
The origins of the university are dated back to the founding of the Hartley Institution in 1862 following a legacy to the Corporation of Southampton by Henry Robertson Hartley. In 1902, the Institution developed into the Hartley University College, with degrees awarded by the University of London. On 29 April 1952, the institution was granted a Royal Charter to give the University of Southampton full university status. It is a member of the European University Association, the Association of Commonwealth Universities and is an accredited institution of the Worldwide Universities Network.
Southampton is systematically ranked in the top 15 of British universities and in the best 100 universities in the world. Besides being recognised as one of the leading research universities in the UK, Southampton has also achieved consistently high scores for its teaching and learning activities. It additionally has one of the highest proportions of income derived from research activities in Britain.
Southampton currently has over 17,000 undergraduate and 7,000 postgraduate students, making it the largest university by higher education students in the South East region. The University has six campuses – four in Southampton, one in Winchester, and one international branch in Malaysia. A further campus – the Maritime Centre of Excellence – is being developed close to the Highfield Campus. The main campus is located in the Highfield area of Southampton. Three other campuses are located throughout the city – Avenue Campus, National Oceanography Centre and Southampton General Hospital, with an additional campus – the School of Art – based in nearby Winchester.
Researchers at the University of Southampton have engineered cells with a ‘built-in genetic circuit’ that produces a molecule that inhibits the ability of tumours to survive and grow in their low oxygen environment.
The genetic circuit produces the machinery necessary for the production of a compound that inhibits a protein which has a significant and critical role in the growth and survival of cancer cells. This results in the cancer cells being unable to survive in the low oxygen, low nutrient tumour micro-environment.
As tumours develop and grow, they rapidly outstrip the supply of oxygen delivered by existing blood vessels. This results in cancer cells needing to adapt to low oxygen environment.
To enable them to survive, adapt and grow in the low-oxygen or ‘hypoxic’ environments, tumours contain increased levels of a protein called Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1). HIF-1 senses reduced oxygen levels and triggers many changes in cellular function, including a changed metabolism and sending signals for the formation of new blood vessels. It is thought that tumours primarily hijack the function of this protein (HIF-1) to survival and grow.
Professor Ali Tavassoli, who led the study with colleague Dr. Ishna Mistry, explains: “In an effort to better understand the role of HIF-1 in cancer, and to demonstrate the potential for inhibiting this protein in cancer therapy, we engineered a human cell line with an additional genetic circuit that produces the HIF-1 inhibiting molecule when placed in a hypoxic environment.
“We’ve been able to show that the engineered cells produce the HIF-1 inhibitor, and this molecule goes on to inhibit HIF-1 function in cells, limiting the ability of these cells to survive and grow in a nutrient-limited environment as expected.
“In a wider sense, we have given these engineered cells the ability to fight back – to stop a key protein from functioning in cancer cells. This opens up the possibility for the production and use of sentinel circuits, which produce other bioactive compounds in response to environmental or cellular changes, to target a range of diseases including cancer.”
The genetic circuit is incorporated onto the chromosome of a human cell line, which encodes the protein machinery required for the production of their cyclic peptide HIF-1 inhibitor. The production of the HIF-1 inhibitor occurs in response to hypoxia in these cells. The research team demonstrated that even when produced directly in cells, this molecule still prevents the HIF-1 signalling and the associated adaptation to hypoxia in these cells.
The next step for the researchers is to demonstrate the viability of this approach to the production and delivery of an anticancer molecule in a whole tumour model system.
Professor Tavassoli adds: “The main application for this work is that it eliminates the need for the synthesis of our inhibitor, so that biologists conducting research into HIF function can easily access our molecule and hopefully discover more about the role of HIF-1 in cancer. This will also let us understand whether inhibiting HIF-1 function alone is enough to block cancer growth in relevant models. Another interesting aspect to the work is that it demonstrates the possibility of adding new machinery to human cells to enable them to make therapeutic agents in response to disease signals.”
New research, led by the University of Southampton, has demonstrated that a nanoscale device, called a memristor, could be used to power artificial systems that can mimic the human brain.
Artificial neural networks (ANNs) exhibit learning abilities and can perform tasks which are difficult for conventional computing systems, such as pattern recognition, on-line learning and classification. Practical ANN implementations are currently hampered by the lack of efficient hardware synapses; a key component that every ANN requires in large numbers.
In the study, published in Nature Communications, the Southampton research team experimentally demonstrated an ANN that used memristor synapses supporting sophisticated learning rules in order to carry out reversible learning of noisy input data.
Memristors are electrical components that limit or regulate the flow of electrical current in a circuit and can remember the amount of charge that was flowing through it and retain the data, even when the power is turned off.
Lead author Dr Alex Serb, from Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, said: “If we want to build artificial systems that can mimic the brain in function and power we need to use hundreds of billions, perhaps even trillions of artificial synapses, many of which must be able to implement learning rules of varying degrees of complexity. Whilst currently available electronic components can certainly be pieced together to create such synapses, the required power and area efficiency benchmarks will be extremely difficult to meet -if even possible at all- without designing new and bespoke ‘synapse components’.
“Memristors offer a possible route towards that end by supporting many fundamental features of learning synapses (memory storage, on-line learning, computationally powerful learning rule implementation, two-terminal structure) in extremely compact volumes and at exceptionally low energy costs. If artificial brains are ever going to become reality, therefore, memristive synapses have to succeed.”
Acting like synapses in the brain, the metal-oxide memristor array was capable of learning and re-learning input patterns in an unsupervised manner within a probabilistic winner-take-all (WTA) network. This is extremely useful for enabling low-power embedded processors (needed for the Internet of Things) that can process in real-time big data without any prior knowledge of the data.
Co-author Dr Themis Prodromakis, Reader in Nanoelectronics and EPSRC Fellow in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, said: “The uptake of any new technology is typically hampered by the lack of practical demonstrators that showcase the technology’s benefits in practical applications. Our work establishes such a technological paradigm shift, proving that nanoscale memristors can indeed be used to formulate in-silico neural circuits for processing big-data in real-time; a key challenge of modern society.
“We have shown that such hardware platforms can independently adapt to its environment without any human intervention and are very resilient in processing even noisy data in real-time reliably. This new type of hardware could find a diverse range of applications in pervasive sensing technologies to fuel real-time monitoring in harsh or inaccessible environments; a highly desirable capability for enabling the Internet of Things vision.”
A material whose optical properties can be modified on a small scale by laser light promises a wide range of applications
Properties of small areas of a versatile optical film can be tweaked by applying ultrashort pulses of laser light, A*STAR researchers show1. This tunability makes the material suitable for various light-based applications, from lenses to holograms.
When the shutter button on a camera is depressed, it focuses by electrically adjusting the positions of the constituent parts of the lens. Similarly, the parameters of optical components in many devices and scientific instruments are adjusted by moving their parts, or by stretching or heating them. Being able to use light to adjust optical components would offer many advantages, including fast response and easy integration into small and robust systems.
Now, such an optically adjustable system has been developed by Qian Wang of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and co-workers, along with collaborators at the University of Southampton, UK, and the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
The team studied a material widely used in CD and DVD disks — chalcogenide glass. In rewritable CD and DVD data-storage devices, microsecond or nanosecond (10−9 second) laser pulses are used to switch the medium between two states — crystalline and disordered. In contrast, Wang and her team used a tightly controlled series of much shorter femtosecond (10−15second) optical pulses to set the glass into incremental states between completely crystalline and completely disordered. By scanning the focused laser beam across the glass film, they could modify regions as small as about 0.6 micrometers (see image).
New research at the University of Southampton is to investigate if large amounts of antibiotic resistant bacteria are present in agricultural soil which may spread into the food chain.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the major issues facing society: by 2050, if not tackled, it will kill more people than cancer, and cost, globally, more than the size of the current global economy (Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, 2014).
The aim of the research is to understand how AMR is introduced into natural soil bacteria, for example from manures applied by farmers or exposure to domesticated or wild animal and bird faecal droppings, and how this transfer takes place in different soil types.
The research will be able to help inform Government AMR policy and management strategies.
Professor Bill Keevil and Dr Marc Dumont from the University’s Network on Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP) are leading the study. Professor Keevil said: “The project addresses if antibiotic resistant bacteria introduced by agricultural practice (animal husbandry, human wastewater disposal, improperly composted manures) or domesticated and wild animal faecal droppings contribute antibiotic resistance genes to the soil microbiome communities or gain resistance genes from the soil antibiotic resistance gene pool (the ‘resistome’), becoming more difficult to treat if they are spread in the food chain causing disease.”
An international team of scientists have found a potentially viable way to remove anthropogenic (caused or influenced by humans) carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere – turn it into rock.
The study, published today in Science, has shown for the first time that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) can be permanently and rapidly locked away from the atmosphere, by injecting it into volcanic bedrock. The CO2 reacts with the surrounding rock, forming environmentally benign minerals.
Measures to tackle the problem of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and resultant climate change are numerous. One approach is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), where CO2 is physically removed from the atmosphere and trapped underground. Geoengineers have long explored the possibility of sealing CO2 gas in voids underground, such as in abandoned oil and gas reservoirs, but these are susceptible to leakage. So attention has now turned to the mineralisation of carbon to permanently dispose of CO2.
Until now it was thought that this process would take several hundreds to thousands of years and is therefore not a practical option. But the current study – led by Columbia University, University of Iceland, University of Toulouse and Reykjavik Energy – has demonstrated that it can take as little as two years.
Researchers from the University of Southampton (UK), and the Institut d’Optique in Bordeaux (France) have devised a new approach for controlling light in a silicon chip by bringing the concept of spatial light modulation to integrated optics.
Silicon photonics are forming the backbone of next-generation on-chip technologies and optical telecommunication, which are aimed at a wide range of emerging applications including optical interconnects, microwave photonic circuits, and integrated optical sensors.
Photonic chip functionality is usually hard-wired by design, however reconfigurable optical elements would allow light to be routed flexibly, opening up new applications in programmable photonic circuits.
Traditional spatial light modulators are based on liquid crystals or micro mirrors and provide many independently controllable pixels. This technology has revolutionised optics in recent years, with many applications in imaging and holography, adaptive optics and wavefront shaping of light through opaque media.
In their new work, presented in the April issue of the journal Optica, the team makes use of multimode interference (MMI) devices, which form a versatile class of integrated optical elements routinely used for splitting and recombining different signals on a chip. The geometry of the MMI predefines its characteristics at the fabrication stage.
Scientists at the University of Southampton have made a major step forward in the development of digital data storage that is capable of surviving for billions of years.
Using nanostructured glass, scientists from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have developed the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data by femtosecond laser writing.
The storage allows unprecedented properties including 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1,000°C and virtually unlimited lifetime at room temperature (13.8 billion years at 190°C ) opening a new era of eternal data archiving. As a very stable and safe form of portable memory, the technology could be highly useful for organisations with big archives, such as national archives, museums and libraries, to preserve their information and records.
The technology was first experimentally demonstrated in 2013 when a 300 kb digital copy of a text file was successfully recorded in 5D.
An international team of physicists has published ground-breaking research on the decay of subatomic particles called kaons – which could change how scientists understand the formation of the universe.
Professor Christopher Sachrajda, from the Southampton Theory Astrophysics and Gravity Research Centre at the University of Southampton, has helped to devise the first calculation of how the behaviour of kaons differs when matter is swapped out for antimatter, known as direct “CP” symmetry violation.
Should the calculation not match experimental results, it would be conclusive evidence of new, unknown phenomena that lie outside of the Standard Model-physicists’ present understanding of the fundamental particles and the forces between them.
The target of the present calculation is a phenomenon that is particularly elusive: a one-part-in-a-million difference between the matter and antimatter decay strengths.
The calculation determines the size of the symmetry violating effect as predicted by the Standard Model.