Leicester Chemistry Research nominated for Research Impact Awards

The inaugural Research Impact Awards at University of Leicester publicly acknowledged the impact of its world-leading insights and expertise last Tuesday 27th June. Research Impact speaks to the heart of the Department's mission and fully supports our drive for the highest quality education through research inspired teaching. From the department, Professors Abbott and Hillman were shortlisted in two of the five possible categories. The details of these nominations, and the research highlighted are given below and full details can be found here

Best Societal Impact (potential)

Operationalizing latent fingerprint visualization on metal objects

Metal objects feature in acquisitive and violent crimes that impact on individuals and society as a whole. In the UK, the most prevalent cause of violent death involves steel knives. Major crimes, including terrorism, frequently involve firearms, for which the evidence is generally a brass bullet casing.

The group lead by Professor of Physical Chemistry Rob Hillman has been involved in the development of new approaches to reveal latent (non-visible) fingermarks on both non-reactive metal surfaces, such as gold, platinum, stainless steel and lead, and reactive metals, such as copper, brass and bronze.

The new technologies use the residue left by a fingermark as a “template” and deposit either polymers or other metals on the bare metal surface, to yield a negative image of the fingerprint.

One of the technologies is the subject of a granted patent and is in the early stages of commercialization with Foster & Freeman, a UK-based international supplier of forensic instrumentation. Both methods have been presented at Home Office Academia and Industry workshops and are included as emerging technologies in the latest Home Office Fingermark Visualisation Manual, issued to all UK police forces and used widely internationally.

This work is as a result of a long standing collaboration with the Home Office Centre for Science and Technology (CAST), represented by Vaughn Sears and Dr Helen Bandey (a University of Leicester graduate)

research impact

Researchers: Professor Robert Hillman, Dr A.L. Beresford-Laycock, Dr R.M. Sapstead (nee Brown), Ms. J. Coulston, Ms. L.J. Nichols-Drew, Department of Chemistry

Rob Hillman

Best Economic Impact (potential)

Society depends on an ever-increasing supply of raw materials. Innovation is needed to reduce the environmental impact of the production of resources – the energy spent on their recovery, water used, the potential contamination released during processing, and waste and residues produced. Minimising these impacts, and at the same time improving recovery of the resources without inflating costs, is a key target for industry and society.

Collaborative research between Geology and Chemistry at Leicester is developing the application of novel solvents in extracting metals from ore minerals, whilst fulfilling “green” credentials. The use of “deep eutectic solvents” (DES) benefits from production being low energy, environmentally benign, economically realistic and ethically sourced. It can replace aqueous-based metal leaching systems, reducing water usage (a major consideration in many developing countries) and aqueous waste that is costly to treat.

The potential impact of a new “green” metal extraction process for the mining industry is vast. The Geology-Chemistry team is working with mining companies from around the world to test samples and build significant economic impact whilst reducing the negative environmental impacts of raw material supply.

Andy Abbott

Researchers: Dr Gawen Jenkin, Department of Geology, Professor Andrew Abbott, Department of Chemistry, with Robert Harris, Dan Smith, Dave Holwell, Hugh Graham, Francesca Bevan, Ahmed Al-Bassam

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Contact Details

Department of Chemistry
University of Leicester
Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK

Email: chemistry@le.ac.uk

Tel: [+44] (0)116 252 2100

Fax: [+44] (0)116 252 3789

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