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May 07, 2020
We are a territory of innovation
Last month, the European Division of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) released a position paper to express its appreciation for the European Innovation Ecosystem concept, within the EU’s Horizon Europe, and in particular for the European Innovation Council’s initiative “Enhanced EIC pilot” that aims to “support top-class innovators, entrepreneurs, small companies and scientists with bright ideas and the ambition to scale up internationally”.

As networks of contacts that promote activities based on connecting people, enhancing talent, creating networks and providing them with adequate spaces to grow, Science Parks and Areas of Innovation can be key players in this new EU initiative, the IASP European Division explains in that paper.

This document provides an opportunity to remind that our park and its environment form that kind of so-called Area of Innovation: the park itself with 1.4 Mm2 of  floor area for innovative companies and the iconic ALBA synchrotron, the largest scientific facility in south-western Europe; our partner UAB university with 4,000 researchers in 30 research centers and its PRUAB technology transfer and incubation center; the EURECAT technology center; the ESADE business school and its ESADE Creapolis business and incubator center… and a dense industrial fabric of more than 10,000 companies within a 7km radius around ALBA.

The concentration of these interconnected people and structures in this concrete territory make it a privileged location to allow new ideas to emerge and innovation to become a tangible reality.
 
April 16, 2020
Alba synchrotron: the double life of electrons
Until now, in the Alba synchrotron, electrons had only one role: running at the speed of light inside the accelerator ring in order to produce a very special light, the synchrotron light. This light is collected in 8 different laboratories located around the accelerator (5 more by 2023) and is used by researchers to analyze the structure of materials at the atomic and molecular scales (remember: 250,000 atoms of aluminum are needed to form a 1 mm long single file…). And Alba has been working this way for 10 years! (See our news released on last April 2).

From 2022, in parallel, in a special room located inside the same building that houses the synchrotron, other electrons will not run to produce light but will be sent directly onto the material samples to produce other types of images that will also enable researchers to investigate materials at the atomic scale. The tool that uses electrons in this way is called an electron microscope and two of the best ones that currently exist (i.e., with the more penetrating look, so to speak) will be installed.

So, researchers will have at the Alba synchrotron two complementary tools to investigate the properties of materials: light from the synchrotron itself and electrons from the two electron microscopes. Depending on the type of scientific or technological problem to be solved, one or the other two techniques (or both) will be used. This concentration of expertise will be a great benefit to the scientific community here and around, making the Alba synchrotron an even more remarkable scientific infrastructure.

The future arrival of these two electron microscopes at Alba (one for materials science and one for biology) is mentioned now because ERDF funds (European Union) were announced last week: they will contribute to fund 50% of the total cost (about 6 million euros).

Further details are given in the press release sent by the Alba Synchrotron: precise characteristics of the two microscopes, role of all involved stakeholders, etc. In addition to the central role of the synchrotron itself, let’s highlight the research institutes located on the campus of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), our neighbor and partner: the UAB itself, the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC).

Congratulations!
 
April 02, 2020
Alba synchrotron: 10 years at the service of the society
On 22nd March 2010, Barcelona Synchrotron Park’s iconic science facility ALBA was inaugurated by Spanish President Zapatero and Catalan President Montilla.

In 10 years, ALBA has allowed numerous advances in a huge range of both basic and applied scientific fields, such as biomedicine, materials science, nanotechnology or archaeology.

Since 2010, the number of users has reach more than 5,000, almost half of them international. In total, ALBA has provided synchrotron light for research groups belonging to 1,850 institutions from 45 different countries and for more than 50 private national and international companies. The result has been more than 1,500 experiments performed that have been reflected in around 1,100 scientific publications.

Currently, the ALBA Synchrotron and its 220 staff members has 8 beamlines and 5 more are under construction, all equipped with different techniques for analyzing matter at an atomic and molecular level thanks to the high quality of the synchrotron light produced.

Since the beginning, 37,722 hours of light have been generated: over the same period, the electrons that run at the speed of light inside the accelerator in order to produce the light would travel 272,000 times the Earth’s distance from the Sun!

For the coming ten years, a great update of the accelerators and beamlines is planned, called ALBA II. Its main goal is reducing the size of the electron beam, increasing the brightness of the synchrotron light, its coherence and, consequently, its powerful to reveal inner details of matter.

Congratulations!

For more information, Alba’s press release here
 
March 23, 2020
ICN2 and CReSA at the forefront against COVID-19
If a first lesson can be already drawn from the COVID-19 epidemic we are facing, is that research is crucial to give both the scientific expertise governments need and solutions to cure or prevent the disease.

In that context, two research centers from the UAB Campus, our neighbor and partner, are on the front line of this great challenge: the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and the Animal Health Research Center (CReSA).

Among the 17 research projects awarded this month by the European Commission after a special call to focus research efforts on the diagnosis and treatment of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, one is led by the ICN2. This project called CONVAT aims at diagnosing the disease in 30 minutes directly from a patient's sample.

CONVAT is led and coordinated by Prof. Laura M. Lechuga, CSIC Research Professor at the ICN2. The device that will be developed is based on optical biosensor nanotechnology will also allow the analysis of different types of coronavirus present in reservoir animals, such as bats, to monitor the evolution of these viruses and prevent future infectious outbreaks in humans. The project has a duration of two years, however, since it is based on previous know-how, results are expected to be produced in less than a year.

Regarding the CReSA laboratory from the Institute for Agri-Food Technology and Research (IRTA), its coronavirus line of research has begun working with scientists at the National Laboratory of Galveston and the University of Texas Medical Center of the United States of America to find out more about the origin and evolution of the disease.

Just days after the Wuhan’s new coronavirus outbreak, the virus’s gene sequence was identified and published by various research centers around the world. With this information, CReSA researchers and their colleagues have identified the target protein and its specific region that would be key to work on a possible vaccine. The next step to this study already published is to check the effectiveness of these molecules in the lab to find out if they would be good candidates for a vaccine.

Congratulations and good luck!
 
March 10, 2020
Barcelona Synchrotron Park publishes a guide to promote biodiversity in its buildings
Creating economic wealth at the service of society and at the same time preserving the natural capital, that is, the economic value of the services offered for free by nature, is part of the challenge to achieve a necessarily sustainable growth and Barcelona Synchrotron Park (BSP) does its part.

Indeed, the Park, awarded by the EU Business & Biodiversity label, has already carried out different actions in this field: permeability of road infrastructures, restoration of natural habitats, creation of shelters to promote birds and other fauna to control pests, naturalised drainage systems (green ditches) or agreements with farmers to promote biodiversity-suited dry croplands in the green corridor and on undeveloped plots.

The BSP’s global action program designed to enhance its green infrastructure and support biodiversity can be downloaded here.
In this program, Action 8 corresponds to promote green infrastructure in buildings: with the technical support of Minuartia, BSP has prepared and published a guide (in Catalan) for the companies already established in the park and new companies that want to set up in.

The guide (in Catalan) includes a set of actions, measures and good practices to promote the conservation of biodiversity and the minimization of the use of resources. The proposed measures are structured in three thematic blocks: Gardening practices to favor wild fauna and flora, good maintenance practices and application of nature-based solutions. Each includes a brief description, practical advice, links to relevant information and reference examples. Together, it represents a very useful tool to encourage and facilitate companies the process of implementing actions to favor biodiversity and green infrastructure.
 
February 27, 2020
Batteries of the future are investigated in the ALBA synchrotron
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 was awarded jointly to John B. Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for the development of lithium-ion batteries: in words of the Nobel Committee “they have created a rechargeable world”.

The battery research community involves today thousands of researchers all around the world, including chemists, physicists, materials scientists and engineers cooperating to push this technology forward to increase performance and sustainability and also unravel new battery chemistries beyond Li-ion.

The Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB) located on the campus of our neighbor and partner UAB University is among the world research centers involved in that key field of research with the Inorganic Materials for Battery Applications research group led by Prof. M. Rosa Palacín.

In a webinar organized on January 23 by Secpho, a cluster of technological innovation that brings together companies, technology centers and research groups, Ashley Black from the Palacín’s group explained the use of synchrotron radiation in battery research. His talk is now online (a 23-minute video in English) and offers a good opportunity to see how powerful a synchrotron is in providing unique information about materials.

Among the different examples presented by Ashley Black, let us mention two results obtained with ALBA synchrotron on prospective batteries based on sodium or calcium instead of lithium: the study of reaction mechanisms using in situ cells in the pre-competitive technology of sodium-ion batteries (MSPD and CLAESS ALBA beam lines) or the localization of calcium by tomography reconstruction thanks to the transmission X-ray microscope of the MISTRAL ALBA beam line in the case of calcium-ion batteries.
 
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