Tag: nanotechnology

  • Nitrogen, the autumn statement, executive meetings and new ways of working

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Last week began with attendance at part of our facilitated ‘ideas lab’ meeting, seeking to develop highly innovative thinking in how to capture dinitrogen biologically and thereby to lower (and eventually eliminate) our unsustainable dependence on fossil-fuel-energy-driven production of nitrogen fertiliser, including by fixation into ammonia via the Haber-Bosch process. I shall look forward to seeing how the facilitators helped drive the flux of creative juices of the delegates.

    We were all delighted, in part following the Chancellor’s recent speech at the Royal Society (about which I blogged), that the autumn statement contained an extra (i.e. genuinely new) £600M capital investment in the research base. This is, to say the least, a very substantial endorsement of the importance of the research base to the UK’s growth and jobs agenda, and such an endorsement is something that is very well worth recording. Good cases, based on evidence and well made, do get results. [...]

  • Nanotechnology, science Olympiads and clusters

    Uncategorized | Douglas Kell

    Biology is the nanotechnology par excellence – 4 Gigayears of evolution have seen to that – and recent work has highlighted the ability of DNA to fold itself into unusual shapes (held together mainly by H-bonds) with interesting machine-like properties – see e.g. recent papers from the laboratories of Ned Seeman and Milan Stojanovic. DNA aptamers also have interesting and complex binding properties, and I have recently published on a first complete landscape thereof. But it is proteins, with a choice of 20 rather than just 4 building blocks, that give the evolutionary tinkerer or design engineer the greater scope for protein engineering. Nowadays this means not only the engineering of proteins – important in industrial biotechnology – but engineering with proteins, to make interesting and potentially useful structures (with or without catalytic properties) by molecular self-assembly. [...]