Ulster University and Belfast City Council join forces to tackle the climate change emergency

Dr Jayanta Mondol- Research Director, Professor Raffaella Folli – Provost of the Belfast & Jordanstown campus, Alderman Frank McCoubrey Lord Mayor, Grainia Long – Commissioner for Resilience

Ulster University and Belfast City Council have come together in a unique research partnership to make a practical and tangible impact on the climate change emergency.

Supporting Belfast City Council’s draft Resilience Strategy’s ambition for ‘an inclusive, low-carbon, climate resilient economy in a generation’, the Architects of Change project puts students from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the heart of developing a training programme for business leaders to bridge the green skills gap.

Leading academics will firstly work with students on concepts and strategies for smart cities and zero emission processes. They will then focus on identifying the gaps in knowledge and skill related to net zero carbon buildings and how these can be addressed through this training programme.

Focussing on sustainability, the training programme will support current business leaders to deliver environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organisations.

The programme will have ongoing mentoring support, a range of materials and a consultancy service from the University to all programme participants in order to ensure development and growth beyond the life of the training programme.

Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey said:

“This partnership with Ulster University will give us the opportunity to inform and influence senior business leaders on the Green Agenda.

“Following a period of consultation, we’ll soon be launching Belfast’s Resilience Strategy, which sets out to transition to ‘an inclusive, low-carbon, climate resilient economy in a generation’. This project will help us to drive change and alter behaviours in order to meet this challenging goal.

“It will put students – our future leaders – at the centre of a dedicated sustainability and carbon emissions training programme, where they will learn and test concepts and strategies and then pass this knowledge on to city leaders, partners and peers.”

In the longer term, results of the project will deliver concepts and strategies for the design, planning, construction and management of climate resilient, net zero emission buildings and communities. It will focus on improving the health and well-being of citizens, users and communities.

Speaking about the partnership, Professor Rafaella Folli, Provost of Ulster University’s Belfast campus noted;”

“The climate change emergency is obviously not a new concern but in recent times it has gained enormous social traction thanks to young leaders like Greta Thunberg.

Given our commitment to transformative educational experiences, we are able to engage our young leaders within the University’s student body to partner with Belfast City Council to deliver this vital programme of work, reoffering once again the power and added value of a partnership approach in education and in society.

Merging theory with practice, to address the Green Agenda skills gap, we will develop innovative practice and shape the operations, buildings and communities of the future.”

The first element of the programme, ‘Zero Belfast’, is already underway with students developing a sustainable plus energy,

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Remote control of heat nanosources motion and thermal-induced fluid flows by using light forces

Remote control of heat nanosources motion and thermal-induced fluid flows by using light forces
a, Multiple gold NPs (spheres of 200 nm radius) are confined by a ring-shaped laser trap (wavelength of 532 nm) and optically transported around it. These NPs rapidly assemble into a stable group of hot particles creating a confined heat source (G-NP) of temperature ~500 K. Free (not trapped) gold NPs acting as tracer particles are dragged toward the G-NP by the action of the thermal-induced water flow created around it (see Video S5 of the paper). The speed of the G-NP is controlled by the optical propulsion force which is proportional to the phase gradient strength tailored along the laser trap as displayed in b, corresponding to the transport state 1. This non-uniform propulsion force drives the G-NP reaching a maximum speed of 42 μm/s. b, Sketch of the switching of the phase gradient configuration (state 1 and 2) enabling a more sophisticated manipulation of the heat source: split and merge of the G-NP. (c), The opposite averaged propulsion forces in the split region (see state 3 at ~0 deg, shown in b) separate the NPs belonging to the original G-NP thus creating G-NP1 and G-NP2, as observed in the displayed sequence (see Video S6 of the paper). These two new heat sources are propelled by the time averaged propulsion force corresponding to state 3 in opposite directions toward the region where they finally merge into a joint G-NP again. Complex transport trajectories for G-NP delivery, for example in form of knot circuit (see Video S7 of the paper), can be created enabling spatial distribution of moving heat sources across a target network Credit: José A. Rodrigo, Mercedes Angulo and Tatiana Alieva

Today, optofluidics is one of the most representative applications of photonics for biological/chemical analysis. The ability of plasmonic structures (e.g., colloidal gold and silver nanoparticles, NPs) under illumination to release heat and induce fluid convection at the micro-scale has attracted much interest over the past two decades. Their size- and shape-dependent as well as wavelength-tunable optical and thermal properties have paved the way for relevant applications such as photothermal therapy/imaging, material processing, biosensing and thermal optofluidics to name a few. In-situ formation and motion control of plasmon-enhanced heat sources could pave the way for further harnessing of their functionalities, especially in optofluidics. However, this is a challenging multidisciplinary problem combining optics, thermodynamics and hydrodynamics.


In a recent paper published in Light Science & Applications, Professor Jose A. Rodrigo and co-workers from Complutense University of Madrid, Faculty of Physics, Department of Optics, Spain, have developed a technique for jointly controlling the formation and motion of heat sources (group of gold NPs) as well as of the associated thermal-induced fluid flows created around them. The scientists summarize the operational principle of their technique, “The technique applies a structured laser-beam trap to exert an optical propulsion force over the plasmonic NPs for their motion control, while the same laser simultaneously heats up them. Since both the shape of the laser trap and the optical propulsion forces are easily and

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Gunmen battle Afghan security forces on Kabul University campus

Afghan policemen keep watch near the site of an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL (Reuters) – Gunmen traded fire with Afghan security forces in Kabul University’s campus following a blast in the area, and at least six people were wounded, Afghan government officials said.

The Taliban denied their fighters were involved in the assault, and the identity of the attackers was unknown

“Gunshots still can be heard in the area but security forces have blocked it off,” Ministry of Interior spokesman Tariq Arian said. “We don’t know whether we are dealing with a coordinated attack or something else.” he said.

He later said that multiple attackers had entered the campus and were fighting with security forces.

At least six people were wounded, including a professor and a student, according to Akmal Samsor, the health ministry’s spokesman.

Witnesses said students had fled from the Kabul University campus.

“Almost all students have now left,” Nahid, a student who asked that only her first name be used for security reasons, told Reuters by telephone after fleeing from the university.

Violence has plagued Afghanistan while government and Taliban negotiators have been meeting in Qatar to try to broker a peace deal that would allow the United States to bring home its troop and end its longest war.

Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Orooj Hakimi; writing by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Robert Birsel & Simon Cameron-Moore

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