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March 21, 2018
Sun and salt: SENER’s know-how
Recent news from SENER related to thermoelectric solar plants give the opportunity to speak about one activity sector of the Engineering and Construction multinational whose Catalan headquarters are set up in Barcelona Synchrotron Park.

On one hand, Torresol Energy, a company created by SENER and the alternative energy company from Abu Dhabi MASDAR to promote the technological development, construction, operation and maintenance of large solar power plants, owner of the innovative plants Gemasolar–a pioneering facility with central tower and molten salt heat storage technology- in Fuentes de Andalucía (Seville, Spain); Valle 1 and Valle 2, celebrates its tenth anniversary this month.

On the other hand, SENER and ACCIONA Industrial have achieved in South Africa the connection of the 100 Mw Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant to the grid on 23 February 2018. The Kathu Solar Park CSP Plant, which will supply electricity to 179,000 homes, is equipped with a molten salt storage system that allows 4.5 hours of thermal energy storage to extend the operational capacity of the plant after sunset.

Congratulations!
 
March 15, 2018
Major Upgrade of an ALBA Synchrotron Beamline
ALBA synchrotron currently offers 8 beamlines. 8 beamlines mean 8 different potential ways to produce synchrotron light and 8 different ways to use it in 8 different laboratories located around the electron accelerator with the aim of determining the intimate structure of materials in a way that depends on their characteristics and the information required.

One of these beamlines is called NCD, which stands for Non Cristalline Diffraction: this beamline is used to get structural information about non crystalline materials, that is to say materials in which atoms are not perfectly ordered, such as polymers or proteins, for instance.

By the way, the NCD beamline is now NCD-SWEET and the new name has been announced this week by ALBA. But, of course, the change goes far beyond: the beamline devoted to Small Angle and Wide Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS, WAXS) has gone through a major upgrade and now offers users further experimental possibilities and higher quality data.

Upgraded items in the SAXS WAXS experimental techniques (SWEET) involve a new monochromator system, a new photon counting detector, a new sample table and a beam conditioning optics with µ-focus and GISAXS options. This new GISAXS (Grazing, Incident SAXS) technique is now available and will be open to academic users in the next call for experiments.
 
March 01, 2018
ALBA Synchrotron is as good at humanities as at sciences!
Let’s point out two news articles among those periodically released by ALBA synchrotron: jointly, they perfectly exemplify the wide range of applications offered by ALBA thanks to the many ways to produce and use the light coming from the electron accelerator. Concretely, results obtained in the field of life sciences and… history are briefly explained hereinafter.
 
Alzheimer:
Researchers from the ALBA Synchrotron and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have analysed with synchrotron light different Alzheimer's aggregates, their location and their effect in cultivated neuronal cells. Results, published in Analytical Chemistry, pave the way to better understand the development of this disease that affects more than 30 million people worldwide.
 
Elamite Kingdom:
Scientists from University of Isfahan in Iran have analysed in the ALBA Synchrotron how were made ancient Iranian glass objects that date back to 2.500 BC. These decorative glass pieces were excavated from the ziggurat of Chogha-Zanbil, a type of stepped pyramidal monument, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. With this information, scientists will be able to know better the glass manufacturing process and reconstruct the technological expertise (know-how) of this ancient civilization.
 
February 23, 2018
Catalonia, 2018/19 Top Southern European Region for FDI Strategy

Financial Times sees Catalonia as the best Southern European Region in its latest report on the most attractive European locations for future foreign direct investments (FDI), the same ranking as two years ago. Barcelona comes second in the continent as the best southern city.

To develop this classification five criteria in more than 450 regions and cities in Europe have been analysed: economic potential, labour environment, cost effectiveness, infrastructure and business friendliness. Taking into account these indicators, the ranking determines that the five most attractive regions of southern Europe in 2018 and 2019 are Catalonia, Madrid, Lombardy, Istanbul and Lisbon, respectively.

In this document called "fDi European Cities and Region of the future 2018/19", which is produced by fDi Magazine (February/March 2018) from the Financial Times, FDI strategy is also analysed: Catalonia and Barcelona rank first in the categories of large regions and major cities, respectively.

February 15, 2018
ICMAB traps sunlight with superabsorbent nanomaterials
In renewable energies, increasing efficiency is a key challenge in the production of “photovoltaic” electrons. This includes elaborating materials that can absorb the largest possible sunlight spectrum.
 
Great news from the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB), a Barcelona Synchrotron Park’s partner: researchers led by Dr. Agustín Mihi, have created materials that largely absorb a wide range of the solar spectrum, between 400 and 1500 nm (visible light and infrared radiations), using an ultrathin layer of less than 100 nm thick of material.
 
The followed strategy, low cost and fully scalable, is based on combining the thin layer deposition of semiconductors on metals, and the nanostructuring of the material forming photonic crystals. The obtained superabsorbers materials have many potential applications, especially in the field of photovoltaic energy and photodetection.
 
Moreover, the researchers provide, in the study published in Advanced Materials, the design guidelines to synthesize other types of materials following the same strategy.
 
February 08, 2018
ERC Grants & the Catalan Research System: a Success Story
From 2000 on, Catalonia has developed its own research system mainly based on an agency dedicated to attract talents (ICREA) and a network of 40 research centres (CERCA).
 
For instance, 5 of these CERCA centres are set up on the UAB university campus, main partner of the Barcelona Synchrotron Park: ICN2 (Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology), IFAE (Institute for High Energy Physics), CRAG (Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics), CVC (Computer Vision Centre) and ICP (Catalan Institute of Palaeontology).
 
The number of researchers awarded by the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) that has been allocating for 10 years very selective grants in the European Research Area (the 28 UE countries plus 12 associated countries) is a parameter, among others, to measure the quality of a European research system.
 
The occasion of this 10th anniversary has provided the Catalan AGAUR agency with the opportunity to analyse the results of all the ERC calls launched during the last decade (Fact Sheet ERC – Catalunya, in Catalan): 10 ERC Starting Grants calls, 5 ERC Consolidator Grants, 9 ERC Advanced Grants, 7 ERC Proof of Concept and 2 ERC Synergy Grants.
 
During this period of time, Catalonia has received 269 grants representing 52% of the Spanish awards. With 36 grants per million inhabitants, Catalonia ranks after Switzerland (72), Israel (61) and the Netherlands (46) and before Denmark (31), the United Kingdom (28), Germany (16) or France (16), among others.

 

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