7 September 2015
UT scientists and their colleagues from Loughborough University, UK, work at joint project for European Space Agency (ESA).

TSU scientists and their colleagues from Loughborough University, UK, work on a joint project for the European Space Agency (ESA).

The work began a year ago after winning a competition on innovative projects. The competition was held by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and the Royal Society of London (leading scientific center with the functions in the UK’s national academy) in accordance with the memorandum of understanding between these organizations.

We are talking with Natalia Ivanova, project supervisor on the Russian side, federal researcher, and associate professor of the Radiophysics department in TSU, candidate of physical and mathematical sciences.

—   Good afternoon, Natalia! The topic of international research sounds a bit fancy. What exactly is this “Development of methods for cleaning nanoparticles fr om surfaces of arbitrary textures for experimental use under the conditions of a micro-gravity environment?”

—   Not every surface can be cleaned with a simple wipe or water, even with specialized cleaning substances. And that’s wh ere our new methods become applicable. It is a well-known fact that the surfaces can be very different. We work with surfaces of different textures, they are used for experiments that involve, say, microboiling, with trace quantities of liquids or suspensions. To maintain the experimental integrity, the experiments takes place in extremely clean environments free of any contaminants. A micro-gravity environment can be found on parabolic orbit ships or in space with very little gravity, or in conditions of weightlessness. In these conditions, nanoparticles effect not only experimental integrity but also the safety of the crew and the ship.

It is important to mention that the cargo carrying capacity of ships is limited. You can’t have a separate surface for every experiment, so an effective way to clean surfaces that have different uses is important.

—   Will these methods be useful on our planet?

—   They surely will. First of all, it is useful in the sphere of advanced technologies. I have already mentioned space, but it will also be used in electronics, optics, laser technologies and so on.

—   How do separate collectives cooperate?

—   We share one goal, yet have different approaches. We work independently though we cooperate continuously. Last year I went to England to take part in the launching of the project. This year we expect a Loughborough University representative to visit TSU.  We are currently making two scientific articles together describing our results.

—   Who exactly suggested this cooperation?

—   Our UK colleagues had a problem: they applied to European Space Agency with two large projects, but these applications were rejected due to problems with the payload and safety arrangements. So they asked for our assistance in solving this problem. We submitted our projects to RFBR and RSL and both projects were approved.

—   Why were you offered such a project?

—   We have already worked a similar problem at the University. We have been cooperating with our colleagues from Loughborough for quite a long time and I personally have been working with them for four years already.

—   Wh ere are you in your research of removing nanoparticles?

—   We’ve tested a range of methods with different particles and on different surfaces. Some brought us good results, some did not. Now we are working on specific recommendations for ESA. According to the project ELIPS-4 the ESA will be experimenting with various processes on different surfaces in zero a gravity environment.

—   How long will this project last?

—   The grant given for this research is intended for two years, but the problem is so fundamental, that the research in this sphere will definitely receive further long-term support.

—   Who works on this project besides you on behalf of TSU?

—   A lot of our TSU scientists are taking part in this project. This includes my colleague who also works in the Department of Radiophysics, Oleg Tarasov. The chair of the Mathematical Modeling Department, Alexey Tatosov is also participating in it. What is really important is that our students are involved as well.

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