Day 2 at XRM 2016: Taiwan vs. Hamburg

by e_e_evans PhD student

Another packed day has been and gone at XRM 2016, so packed in fact I’m surprised that talks that happened only this morning weren’t actually from yesterday’s programme.

Update: I now know what ptychography is! But don’t ask me to explain it because I don’t understand it well enough to properly articulate it.

Today’s talk highlights included:
– imaging phase separation in Li Batteries
– 4D imaging of various stripes, 3D plus spectra and 3D plus time series, with the latter examples being Li Battery explosive failure and watching a match burn from inside it.
– Imaging and analysing the compound eyes of bees (including some seriously cool image segmentation methods) which I found particularly good.
– Lots of open source software

…….and the battle for the 2020 location of XRM, Taiwan vs Hamburg. Imagine the Olympic bidding only without the corruption and the presentations are more interesting. One of the fun things about the bid talks, and a lot of the other talks for that matter, has been finding out just how many X-ray and Synchrotron facilities are out there in the wide world. Voting closes later in the week so we’ll know then where the conference will be held in 4 years time. (In two years the conference will be in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. And yes I did have to look up the spelling of ‘Saskatchewan’).

Today I did a lot more chatting to people. People who know me back in Swansea probably wonder if I ever shut up but I’m usually quite shy around new people so it helped that it was other people who instigated the conversations. In particular I ran into people who I’d met at the ToScA conference last year in Manchester. It’s always great to catch up and exchange lab stories.

People will often say that conferences are the best place to start collaborations. I never really understood how that actually happened but after the last 2 days I’ve realised that you don’t need to persuade a scientist to collaborate. It comes up so effortlessly; whether it’s an offer of an exchange of samples, machine time, software code or even just a lab visit. It really is heartening that although we can often feel like individual islands of research just a tiny bit of activation energy is enough to bring people together.


Pages of notes made today: 27

I’ve also been taking lots of pictures of the displays within the Institute including crochet hyperbolic planes, porcelain topographic sculptures and a modular origami bee hive with model bees. So there’s another blog topic for after the conference!

Tomorrow is a half day so I’ll be visiting some of Oxford’s sights and trying to bag a few more colleges to add to my list.

Analysis technique of the day: STXM (sticks-’em), scanning transmission X-ray microscopy
Best acronym of the day: MANTiS software (with a mantis shrimp as it’s logo), Multivariate ANalysis Tool for Spectromicroscopy