Cape Town, 16-17 December 2019
A warm South African welcome and stunning Cape Town backdrop greeted the 20 participants of the GCRF START Energy Materials Workshop, which was funded by GCRF START. The event took place from the 16-17 December 2019 and was hosted by the Catalysis Institute and c*change (DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Catalysis) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
The event kicked off with an introductory dinner at the stunning Steenberg Farm. Nationalities from Swaziland and South Africa through to the UK and Germany were represented. The Post-docs (PDRA’s), MSc. and PhD students, University lecturers, Principal Investigators (PI’s) and Co-Investigators (Co-I’s), Communications and grant staff hailed from the University of Cape Town’s Catalysis Institute (SA), University of the Witwatersrand (SA) Diamond Light Source (UK), the ISIS Neutron Source (UK), the University of Oxford (UK), Cardiff Catalysis Institute, Cardiff University (UK), the University of Southampton (UK), University of Sheffield (UK), The African Neutron and Synchrotron Data Analysis Competency (ANSDAC), and the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Catalysis – c*change (SA).
Tours of the Centre for Catalysis were given by Professor Claeys showcasing the excellent laboratory facilities and equipment available for use. GCRF START project Investigators and PDRA’s presented research covering topics including:
- Photo Voltaic’s – PV, batteries, fuel cells, solar cells
- Organic solar cells and Microstructures
- Organic semiconductors
- Global optimisation of Cu clusters
- Catalysis (controlling nanomaterials and structures)
- CO2 hydrogenation
- X-ray Spectroscopy
Presentations by Nico Fischer at ANSDAC, Michael Claeys from c*Change, and Daniel Bowron from the ISIS Neutron Source, provided insights into the collaboration opportunities through GCRF START.
Passing the mid-point of the GCRF grant is a good time to reflect on what has been achieved thus far, and is a useful time to plan ahead – both within the time of the remaining grant and how to continue the momentum into the future. With established PI’s, Co-I’s, and Post-docs attending the workshop, there was ample opportunity to share ideas for a potential GCRF START phase II, and to agree a vision and strategy for forging new ways to collaborate on the African continent in keeping with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Pan-African 50-year mission – AGENDA 2063.
In particular, the discussion considered ways to facilitate beamtime applications within Energy Materials research. Access to Diamond can either be through an individual proposal, or through a ‘Block Allocation Group’ (BAG). GCRF START is an excellent vehicle to bring together a BAG for Energy Materials research, which also increases the networking between scientists. Indeed, there is already a successful BAG access in Structural Biology. In addition, beamlines with robotic support allow for remote access, meaning scientists can take control of the beamline without having to travel thousands of miles to take part.
Another key point was how to increase the amount of outreach activity we do to further the impact of the grant and help foster an enthusiasm for salient science within the local population. There are already many examples of excellent practice from individuals and institutions within the grant network such as SciArt with local crafters from the Keiskamma Art Project, as well as outreach to schools and graduates through to government ministers.
Finally, the network has grown for the grant to further increase its scope, expanding to include more researchers, institutions and organisations. There is a great opportunity to be had in teaching more about applying synchrotron science to a wider pool of researchers who may find that using the powerful X-ray beams and laboratory equipment available through GCRF START collaborators can enhance their current work and skills set.
An important aspect of all START events is networking and knowledge sharing, and participants took full advantage of the time available between presentations at coffee breaks and mealtimes to share their experiences and cement collaborations. At the end of the event, a traditional South African ‘Braai’ (Barbeque) in the grounds of the University of Cape Town aptly rounded off a thoroughly enjoyable and fruitful workshop. Interviews, photos and videos captured the buzz of the workshop to be used to share more of START’s ongoing work, achievements and impact with our current and potential stakeholders.
Photo Credit Rebekka Stredwick, ©Diamond Light Source
Across the continent, GCRF START is working with Africa to support the Pan-African 50-year mission: AGENDA 2063 .
Click here for more information about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for Energy.