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MOSAIC (Modelling, Simulation and Innovative Characterisation)


http://mosaicteam.eu/ - Please click on link for further details

Principle Investigators are 

Associate Professor Tofail Syed

Department of Physics/ Bernal Institute

Dr Christophe Silien

Department of Physics/ Bernal Institute

Professor Tewfik Soulimane

Department of Chemical Sciences/ Bernal Institute

Mr John Mulcahy

Bernal Institute


UL physicists Prof. Tofail Syed and Dr. Christophe Silien are lead researchers in the MOSAIC research group at the University of Limerick.

This year, one of their PhD students, Aimee Stapleton working with a group comprised from MOSAIC, the department, and an international collaboration, made an exciting new discovery of piezoelectricity in the globular protein lysozyme. They reported their results in Applied Physics Letters this October.

Lysozyme is found in egg whites, tears, and the saliva and milk of mammals. This new discovery was widely covered in the national and international media. Aimee Stapleton, the lead author on this paper explains: “While piezoelectricity is used all around us, the capacity to generate electricity from this particular protein had not been explored. The extent of the piezoelectricity in lysozyme crystals is significant. It is of the same order of magnitude found in quartz. However, because it is a biological material, it is non-toxic so could have many innovative applications such as electroactive, anti-microbial coatings for medical implants”.

The MOSAIC group is leading the largest industry Spoke of CURAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Medical Devices involving 6 academic partners and 35 industry partners. CÚRAM’s innovative approach incorporates biomaterials and drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design to enhance, develop and validate both traditional and new combinational medical devices from molecular design to device manufacturing.

The MOSAIC group has also custom-developed a large number of non-linear optical characterisation techniques including the world's first far-field super resolution infrared nanoscope, a fast infra-red microscope, and a coherent anti Stokes Raman spectroscopy imaging system. The potential for these techniques for personalised and early diagnosis of diseases is very high.


MOSAIC projects 


Objectives of the BioElectricSurface project include the following

  • Benchmarking of electrically modified surfaces of specific biomaterials with the help of atomistic modelling and innovative nanoscale experiments
  • Benchmarking of biomaterials/biological interactions through quantitative information at the nano-, micro- and macroscopic scale
  • Electrical modification of cardiovascular stent surfaces to demonstrate restenosis prevention
  • Electrical modification of urological stent surfaces to demonstrate encrustation prevention
  • Proliferation of osteoblastic cells on electrically modified bone scaffolds/implants to increase bone growth stimulation.
  • Photosterilisation of nanoparticle-embedded fabric to make high performance reusable hospital gowns

The MOSAIC Team at University of Limerick is the largest academic contributor to CÚRAM collaborating with six other academic partners including University College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, Molecular Medicine Ireland and National University Galway  as well as over 35 industry partners. As a result CÚRAM is establishing itself as a global hub of research expertise in medical device technology. Establishment of CÚRAM positions Ireland at the forefront of the worlds’ medical device industry – a leading area of innovation, employment and export in Ireland.

CÚRAM’s innovative approach incorporates biomaterials and drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, glycoscience and device design to enhance, develop and validate both traditional and new combinational medical devices from molecular design to device manufacturing.

Devices are developed with strong clinical collaborations to enable rapid translation of research findings to clinical application. Key to this approach has been the establishment of a unique network of synergistic national and international collaborations, integrating world-class academic, industry and clinical partners.

Key Objectives: 

  • Establish a world-leading Irish Medical Device R&D Centre to improve and enhance traditional medical devices and develop the next generation of medical implants, cell and drug device combination products to address unmet clinical needs 
  • Partner with local SMEs and multinational medical device and pharmaceutical companies to create new employment opportunities
  • Create training in medical device research and clinical application for academia, industry and clinicians
  • Develop Intellectual Property with commercial and clinical relevance and with licensing and spin-out potential

Every year, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects about 800,000 new patients in Europe and directly causes 50% of dependency of aged persons. Currently there is no test to diagnose this disease. There is a great need to improve outcomes for patients with lung cancer which causes between 15-28% of all cancer deaths in Europe. Chemical and structural imaging with nanoresolution under ambient conditions can significantly advance our understanding of biological processes at the sub-cellular level and provide understanding of early stage AD and lung cancer, improve the effiency of therapeutic drugs and evaluate the real impact of nanomaterials to health and safety. In production processes the ability to image defects with nanometre resolution is critical for robust quality control of ‘industrially important’ products e.g. organic photovoltaic devices, antimicrobial textiles and functional coatings on biomedical implants. Nanoscale imaging available today does not permit in situ sub-cellular analysis and integrated metrology. This restricts our ability to optimise nanomaterials processes. Vibrational spectroscopy based imaging tools such as Infra-Red microscopy can provide a solution. Lateral resolutions of such techniques are currently limited to the micrometre range due to diffraction-limits. This project proposes a nove imaging tool Infra Red Nanoscope (IRN) that will break away from this diffraction limit. IRN will significantly improve the lateral resolution of IR microscopy on a table-top set up from the current state-of-the-art of 100 micron to 70 nm. It will also perform 3D imaging at a resolution of 500 nm, which is currently not possible in IR microscopy. A detailed methodology and instrumentation plan exists to implement a ready to commercialise table-top, nanoresolution, IRN. The instrument offers easy operation, flexibility and label free imaging of structure and chemistry that will stimulate new research in cancer treatments and early stage diagnostics of AD.


Background of ReVolv project

It is estimated that global sales of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels have reached 217 million units by the end of 2013.  Given that many LCDs have a short lifespan a large amount of LCDs are made redundant each year and require proper disposal (around 70 000 tonnes in 2013).  The WEEE and ROHS Directives, which all EU member states are required to implement, stipulate that components containing mercury and liquid crystals must be removed from LCDs.

The recycling of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels is posing a particular problem for WEEE recyclers in the EU. The majority of recyclers use a manual disassembly process to remove the mercury lighting tubes and LCD panel which is a slow and labour intensive process. The difficulty of LCD disassembly combined with high costs has led to a situation of stockpiling of LCDs at recycling facilities across Europe.

The ReVolv project

The WEEE recycling industry is in urgent need of an efficient and low cost LCD recycling process to help them comply with the WEEE Directive. The Votechnik Trumaster-ALR fills the gap in this market; it is a fully automated, high through-put technology designed to meet the WEEE Directive recycling rates. The Trumaster-ALR can process 80 LCDs per hour and separate the liquid crystal glass panel and the mercury from the LCD display. The ReVolv project will allow the upscaling and commercialization of Trumaster-ALR designed for LCD panel depollution to enable further downstream recycling. The ReVolv project is a two-year initiative funded by CIP Eco-innovation.

Major ReVolv outputs and results to be achieved by the end of the project:

– Regulatory approval, WEEELABEX conformity verification and CE marking of the technology;

– Demonstration of the technology to a number of independent recyclers through-out Europe;

– A full scale commercial replication of the Trumaster-ALR LCD recycling technology

Throughout the project Votechnik will engage with all project partners and its Advisory Board to correctly position the technology in the marketplace leading to full scale commercialisation.