The research interests of the Mills group are wide and varied including: dye and semiconductor photochemistry, redox catalysis (in particular, oxygen catalysis), solar energy conversion (in particular artificial photosynthesis) and colour and fluorescence based indicators and smart inks and plastic films.
Established in 2004, the Green Gown Awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the UK. With sustainability moving up the agenda, the Awards have become established as the most prestigious recognition of best practice within the further and higher education sector. The Green Gown Awards are administered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) and are governed by a cross agency steering group. With 180 applications received across 14 categories, our research, ‘Saving millions of lives by enhancing the solar disinfection of water (SODIS)’, was announced as a finalist in the research and development category in June. As part of the application we were asked to create a short video on our project. We are also in the process of publishing this work, and the most recent version of the work can be found here (UV dosimetry for SODIS). The winners of the Green Gown Awards 2014 will be announced at the Green Gown Awards’ Ceremony in November, which will be attended by Dr Katherine Lawrie.
The group has created a smart, oxygen sensitive ink, which is activated (photobleached) upon a short exposure to UVA light. In the absence of oxygen the ink stays bleached, but in its presence it recovers its original colour at a rate which is proportional to the ambient level of oxygen. The attached movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhWog0X-C0E) shows such an ink being photobleached in air and then recovering its original colour. In the second movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJhGTf0UEuM) a piece of tape has been attached on the ink to ensure the absence of the oxygen and to show that the indicator stays photobleached in such an environment. Currently, Lucie Nemcova is exploring exploring ways to alter the response time of this indicator from a few hundred seconds to days, by varying the encapslatiing medium. Such indicators have potential in any application where the presence or absence of oxygen is essential, such as in modified atmosphere packaging.
S-K. Lee, A. Mills and A. Lepre. An Intelligence Ink For Oxygen, Chem. Commun., 1912-1913, 2004.
During a recent trip to Prague to attend the SP4 meeting on semiconductor photochemistry we found we had run out of time and needed to produce a 3 min movie for an imminent pitch for funding our photocatalyst work through InkIntelligence. So, during the conference AM went out with Christopher O’Rourke and David Hazafy and filmed various parts, in the pouring rain, in different parts of Prague. This movie was filmed on an iPhone and the sound was recoded on a separate iPhone, in AM’s top pocket; Chris O’Rourke put it all together. Needless to say – we were all soaked at the end – but we did get through to the next round!