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Radboud University Nijmegen

Radboud University Nijmegen

16 Projects, page 1 of 4
  • Funder: UK Research and Innovation Project Code: EP/X020452/1
    Funder Contribution: 129,698 GBP

    Accelerators are often used to smash particles together or irradiate targets, and sometimes the purpose of this irradiation is to generate other kinds of radiation such as electromagnetic radiation. The other very important reason to use an accelerator is that any charge radiates when subject to acceleration, such as the centripetal acceleration when it is forced to perform a circular path in what is called a synchrotron, and if the speed of the particle is close to the speed of light the radiation is dominantly in the forwards direction. Particle beams can produce very bright and well collimated "laser-like" synchrotron light beams, and in some ways these beams can be much more attractive than regular lasers. For example, the intensity can be extremely high, since the beam of particles can't be damaged or burnt in the way that lasers made from glasses or crystals can. The light pulse duration is related to the particle beam pulse, and this can be very short. Finally, the wavelength of the light is determined by the particle beam energy and the strength of the acceleration, and since these parameters are widely tunable, so is the colour of the light. There are a dozen or so large accelerator based photon sources in Europe that sceintists can visit for experiment, including the UK synchrotron, the Diamond Light Source at Harwell. Many of these sources use the standard circular ring and the synchrotron light is generated by the centripetal force, but some are linear or have straight sections with what is called a line of magnets that cause the electrons to wiggle or undulate on their way through, and these can greatly enhance the light output. One such facility is the FELIX laboratory at the Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, which is dedicated to providing intense, tunable and short pulsed infrared light. The vision of this project is to provide free and easy access for any UK scientist to the FELIX Laboratory. FELIX is a suite of three Free Electron Lasers; unique, flexible, ultrafast light source for mid-infrared and THz spectroscopy. Mid-IR/THz light is important because the photon energy corresponds to many useful phenomena such as the "fingerprint" vibrations that allow identification of molecules, or some spin-flip or magnetic transitions important for memory devices, to name a few. FELIX's set of light characteristics are impossible to obtain simultaneously using standard UK University lab scale equipment, and a large-scale infrastructure, here a free-electron laser (FEL), is crucial for ground-breaking research at the extremes of what is achievable with modern day technology. FELIX provides a powerful means for investigating and manipulating matter in territory that is otherwise impossible to chart, driving it to otherwise unobtainable excited states with unprecedented temporal precision, revealing new functionalities. It is continuously tuneable in a region of the electromagnetic spectrum uniquely suited for driving specific excitations of not only molecules, clusters and collective modes of biologically important proteins, but also electrons in metals and semiconductors. The equipment sharing and user facility access model maximises the size of the UK community, and the provision of a variety of excellent beamlines maximises its diversity. In this project we aim to understand better the needs of the UK research community, and help them to gain access to this world-leading facility. At the same time we aim to drive developments at FELIX that will meet the UK Community needs of the future.

  • Funder: UK Research and Innovation Project Code: NE/P015093/1
    Funder Contribution: 112,753 GBP

    The Paris agreement commits nations to pursuing efforts to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. This represents a level of transformation of the socio-economic and energy systems that substantially exceeds the scenarios that have been found using conventional integrated assessment models (IAMs). Such models generally ignore economic disequilibrium effects such as unemployment, which could become important under conditions of radical economic transformation, and neglect key dynamic processes that control the rate of uptake of new technologies. Rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions also potentially violate the simple scaling assumptions used to derive environmental impacts in IAMs because of the slow response of some parts of the climate system such as the ocean, as compared to the land. We plan to develop a set of more realistic dynamic pathways to reach the 1.5 degree target using a new, fully dynamic IAM that does not rely on equilibrium or pattern scaling assumptions. The assessment will identify policy options and the degree of negative emissions required and will quantify the resulting spatial patterns of climate change and the associated uncertainty resulting from incomplete knowledge of climate, carbon-cycle and socio-economic parameters.

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  • Funder: UK Research and Innovation Project Code: EP/I021949/1
    Funder Contribution: 338,790 GBP

    Molecular imaging is one of the key tools for non-invasive clinical diagnosis and opens up the possibility of personalising patient treatment. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) in particular is expanding rapidly and new PET imaging centres are currently being installed across the UK. Biomedical research provides increasing numbers of active molecules that target disease sites in the body and thus could in principle function as imaging agents by labeling with a positron emitting isotope. However, 18-F-FDG is currently the only routinely used PET tracer in the clinic, despite the wide availability of the 18-F radionuclide. This is mainly due to the complexity of the multistep-procedures requiring specialized equipment to make the 18-F labeled imaging agents. The current labeling methods also can be harmful to sensitive biomolecules and thus a small precursor molecule is often labeled that is then attached to an active biomolecule to create the imaging agent. This project will develop a new 18-F-labeling method for sensitive biomolecules which uses the metal aluminium to bind fluoride, rather than carbon-fluorine bond formation which has been the main approach adopted hitherto. The one step labeling procedure will allow clinicians to add the 18-F-fluoride directly into a prepared kit containing the biomolecule in order to prepare the imaging agent. The use of special polymer beads in the labeling has the potential of achieving a higher ratio of labeled to unlabeled precursor than conventional solution methods. This has the advantage of giving better contrast in-vivo and reducing the problems of patient reaction caused by the presence of unlabelled excess biomolecule. The chemistry involved requires no specialised equipment and the faster, kit-based method helps to minimise the exposure of radiation workers to the radionuclide. To achieve our aim, we are designing metal binding sites for fluoride that will allow radiolabeling under conditions that do not harm sensitive biomolecules and proteins. We also propose to combine this approach with methods to attach biomolecules of interest in a way that preserves their ability to reach the target site in the body. Additionally, the compounds we propose are intrinsically fluorescent, so that the potential imaging agents can also be evaluated in living cells using fluorescence microscopy, since PET imaging on its own does not have the resolution necessary to observe the behaviour of the complexes in something as small as a cell. By offering much improved labeling, our new system will facilitate the discovery of new potent biomolecules and facilitate the adoption of Positron Emission Tomography in the clinic without the need for expensive, specialized equipment. A final benefit of the ligand chemistry involved for aluminium is that it also has the potential to be used with other metallic PET radionuclides.

  • Funder: UK Research and Innovation Project Code: NE/T006935/1
    Funder Contribution: 420,470 GBP

    Humans have modified over 75% of the global land area, leading to huge, negative impacts on biodiversity. A major consequence is that once large natural habitats have become fragmented into small islands of habitat within a sea of human-modified land such as farms and cities. Most species depend on dispersal (the movement of individuals from where they are born to a different location) to maintain healthy populations across landscapes. When their habitat becomes fragmented into small, isolated patches, species are often unable to disperse effectively between the remnant patches and this frequently results in population declines, loss of genetic diversity and local extinctions of species. Understanding how best to manage landscapes that are fragmented is a key challenge. One of the most promising responses to fragmentation is to conserve or restore wildlife corridors, i.e. swaths of natural habitat between otherwise isolated habitat patches to facilitate dispersal, gene flow, and population rescue. Indeed, corridor creation is at the core of national (e.g. England's 25 Year Environment Plan) and international (e.g. the UN's Connectivity Conservation Project) environmental policies. Many conservation and environment agencies (e.g., Natural England, the USA's 22 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives) are designing - and public and private conservation investors are implementing - wildlife corridors. Huge sums of money in direct expenses and foregone development opportunities are being invested in corridors. However, we lack an understanding of if such corridors work. Most of what is known about corridor efficacy comes from experiments on model systems that do not resemble real-world wildlife corridors. New studies are needed to address the crucial questions: do corridors counter real-world fragmentation; and what corridor characteristics constrain effectiveness? To address these questions, we need to do fundamental research into the ecology of species' dispersal over large-scales and within complex, human-modified landscapes. Existing experiments on corridors study the effects of corridors less than 0.5km long and less than 0.4km wide, much smaller than corridors in the real world. Our objective in this project is assess corridor effectiveness in a number of human-modified landscapes. We will address major knowledge gaps about the characteristics of effective corridors by studying 4-6 focal species in each of 20 landscapes in Europe and the Americas. Each of these 20 landscapes contains three types of habitat configurations: isolated habitat patches, pairs of patches connected by a corridor, and a large intact natural area. The landscapes are ideal because they vary in corridor widths (0.2-3km) and lengths (1-25km), which resembles the large scales at which habitat fragmentation and corridors are design in reality. Using genetic methods to assess how a variety of mammal species move in these different habitat configurations, we will identify whether mammals are able to use corridors at these large scales and which corridor characteristics (e.g. length, width) most strongly influence success. We will assess where and how unsuccessful corridors fail. We will also use novel analysis of species characteristics, such as body size, dispersal ability, brain size and reproductive rate, to identify which types of species are most likely to benefit from corridors and determine whether different types of species might require different types of corridors. Finally, we will use our new data in ecological models to test a range of methods for planning wildlife corridors, which will make the project useful to conservation managers globally. Our project will deliver vital new information on how to make wildlife corridors successful for a large variety of species, will bring new understanding into species dispersal over very large scales, and will provide new methods for determining where to best invest resources for conservation.

  • Funder: UK Research and Innovation Project Code: ES/M008444/1
    Funder Contribution: 130,861 GBP

    Across Western Europe the activity of urban regeneration is now around 40 years old. From the vantage point of the present this history is best understood as one of experimentation and re-experimentation with a range of policy tools, agencies and spatial scales. To take the issue of scale as an example, the preferences of British policy makers in the 1970s for 'the local' were replaced by regions in the 1980s and early 1990s (having been earlier in vogue in the 1950s). This 'new regionalism' was followed by policy orientated towards 'cities', construed as metropolitan city-regions, in the later 1990s/early 2000s - itself redolent of analysis and policy stretching back to the 1930s. Most recently this has given way to a (new) 'new localism' post-2010 (for a historical review see, Lord and Tewdwr-Jones, 2013). Against this rapid cycling of preferences for the scale at which urban policy should be delivered we could produce a parallel history of the range of limited-life agencies created by the central state to deliver such policy (the Urban Development Corporations of the 1980s, the Regional Development Agencies of the late 1990s, the Urban Regeneration Companies of the mid-2000s being a very few indicative examples). The overarching impression is a policy landscape characterised primarily by upheaval. Indeed the only commonality between periods is the central role played by national government as architect of the agencies themselves and the geographies to which they apply. A genuine departure to this formula came with the Localism and Decentralism Act, 2011. Under this piece of legislation for the first time anywhere in the Western world individual citizens have been given the power to assemble into coalitions, determine the boundaries of their own neighbourhood and author a plan for that area. The resultant neighbourhood plan can cover many of the features that would historically have been the preserve of a professional planner at City Hall including, for example, the design characteristics of new development. More than this, the neighbourhood planning process can draw upon innovative funding models, some of which lie outside the traditional public or public-private financial arrangements that have been the norm in the past. Good examples in this respect include Community Land Trusts and the Community Right to Build initiative which allow private individuals to jointly acquire existing buildings identified as being of local significance or develop new ones. The purpose of this research is twofold. Firstly it seeks to investigate this process of self-organised governance of urban policy using the explanatory framework provided by game theory; secondly it aims to contextualise findings from England within the wider setting offered by related approaches that have been pioneered in mainland Europe. Taking neighbourhood planning fora as the empirical subject for the domestic component of the research we will use a range of research methods rooted in game theory and experimental economics to explore urban planning policy designed and delivered in this self-organised manner. Fundamental questions to be addressed will include what conditions are necessary for coalitions to spontaneously form; what features promote coalition stability/instability, and; how might the use of collectivised financial instruments (such as a community land trust) encourage community-directed urban transformation. The results of this research on neighbourhood planning fora will then be added to the experience of similarly self-organised approaches to effecting urban transformation reported by partner universities in North West Europe. This international feature of the research is designed to encourage policy transfer and enhance the value of the work to policy makers.

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