Imperial College Scientists Showcase Research at the Science Museum

A multi-coloured mouse brain, a jacket grown from bacteria and a miniature bioreactor are all on display in the Science Museum this month as researchers from Imperial College London take their work to the public.

The scientists are showcasing research in the Who Am I exhibit, which invites people to explore the science of who they are, and the Trash Fashion exhibit, which looks at new techniques for reducing the environmental impact of the fashion industry. They are also demonstrating their cutting edge green power technology in the Antenna Wing.

Who Am I exhibit
Emeritus Professor Colin Caro, from the Department of Bioengineering, is showcasing a new stent that he has developed that mimics the twisted shape of arteries. Surgeons insert stents into patients with blocked arteries to increase blood flow. Current models of stents can clog up with plaque, which increases the possibility of heart disease. Professor Caro has developed a stent that forces the blood to swirl and cross-mix, preventing plaque build-up and the onset of vascular disease.

Dr Simon Schultz, also from the Department of Bioengineering, is revealing a technique that enables him to make proteins in mice brain cells glow in a range of colours under the right light, creating a colourful rainbow in the mouse’s brain, or “brainbow”. Dr Schultz is using brainbow mice to develop a new methodology for imaging brain activity, which could lead to a greater understanding of how brains work. He has donated a preserved brainbow mouse and a brainbow mouse brain.

799In the video ( right ), the scientists talk about their research and their exhibits and what it means to have their work on display in one of the world’s leading museums.

Trash Fashion exhibit
A jacket grown from bacteria that live on green tea is also on display in the Trash Fashion exhibit. The manufacturing process for making textiles for clothing creates high levels of pollution and the designers say growing fabric from bacteria could provide the fashion industry with an environmentally friendly alternative. The jacket has been developed and designed by Suzanne Lee and the researchers from Imperial’s Division of Molecular Biosciences and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology are now working with her to find a way of making the material water resistant.

This week, researchers from the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology were on hand at the Trash Fashion exhibit. They spoke to 300 museum visitors about the science behind making the material and the environmental benefits of using these materials in the future.

Antenna Wing exhibit
A miniature bioreactor that uses sunlight to extract hydrogen fuel from algae is on display. In the future, large scale bioreactors could be used to produce hydrogen, which is a carbon free energy alternative to petroleum, to power homes or fuel family cars. Bojan Tamburic, a postgraduate from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology, has installed the mini-bioreactor in the Science Museum to show visitors the types of clean energy that they may use in the future. The bioreactor display is an outreach initiative of the Energy Future’s Lab, which is the College’s hub for energy research.

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