University of Kent Canterbury Enterprise Hub University of Kent Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University Lab-Tools.com


Dr. Beau Webber

Dr. Beau Webber

  • Honorary Research Fellow, School of Physical Sciences,
    University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent. CT2 7NH
  • Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Petroleum Engineering,
    Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. EH14 4AS
  • Director and Designer, Lab-Tools Ltd.,
    Canterbury Enterprise Hub, University of Kent,
    Canterbury, Kent. CT2 7NJ
Lab: 07544 915 464
Mob: 07875 170 593
Fax: 01227 82 7778
Email: J.B.W.Webber@kent.ac.uk
Publications

Recent Grants : EPSRC: Gas Hydrates in porous media.
Details & Report


Hi, I have, since shortly after the founding of the University of Kent, been a member of the NMR group in the Physics Laboratory. I was a founder member of the Physics Lab's Condensed Matter Group and I am still closely associated with its successor, the Functional Materials Group, in the now Department of Physical Sciences, as an Honorary Research Fellow.
I am now also a Senior Research Associate at Heriot-Watt University, in the Institute of Petroleum Engineering, working with two groups, the Centre for Gas Hydrate Research, and the Behaviour and Modeling of Faults/Fractures/Fluids Systems project.
I am now also the director of a small nano-science and nano-metrology company, Lab-Tools Ltd.

I study structured matter, mainly on the nano- to meso- to micro-scale: from about 1 Å up to a few µm, primarily using techniques based on NMR and neutron scattering.

I do this both from a wish to study the novel properties of the matter, and also from a wish to apply this knowledge to the science of metrology over this nano-scale to micro-scale range.

In particular, I study the behaviour of liquids in confined geometry, both at and near the surfaces of substrates. In both cases the physical properties of liquids are modified, sometimes substantially.

UKC Functional Materials Group
Functional Materials Group

Some of my web pages :

Nano-Science.co.uk
Our development of the understanding of Nano-Science and its application to Nano-Metrology.

Nano-Metrology.co.uk
Nano-Metrology, using NMR and neutron scattering, as analytic techniques for Industry and Academia.

First I study the properties of liquids in well characterised porous materials, such as sol-gel silicas, and the templated MCM and SBA-15 silicas.

Then I apply this understanding to investigate the properties of uncharacterised porous materials, such as porous carbons, fired or un-fired clays, marine sediments, oil-bearing rocks, meteorite fragments ....

Porous-Media.com
Some pages describing our techniques for functionalising and characterising porous materials.

I have extensively developed NMR Cryoporometry, and have now extended the range of the technique from about 1nm to nearly 10µm. I specialise in combining results from different measuring techniques, using computer based models, and also in designing novel measurement protocols (such as Neutron Diffraction Cryoporometry).

The prime experimental techniques I use are :

  • NMR relaxation,
  • NMR Cryoporometry (NMRC), (figure 2),
  • NMR diffusion in a magnetic gradient (Static or Pulsed),
  • Neutron Diffraction (NS),
  • Neutron Diffraction Cryoporometry (NDC), (figure 3),
  • Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS),
  • Quaasi-Elastic Neutron Scattering (QENS),
  • X-Ray Diffraction (XRD),
  • N2 Gas Adsorption,
  • Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and
  • Thermoporosimetry.
cryoporometry.com
NMR Cryoporometry is a technique for measuring pore size distributions that we originated at Kent and that I have extensively developed.

3D Model of laminar silicon, with surface films of liquid nitrogen - one timestep from a CASTEP ab-initio QM MD simulation.
3D model of laminar silicon porous system, with surface films of liquid nitrogen - one timestep from a CASTEP ab-initio QM MD simulation.

Normalised pore size distributions for selected porous silicas, by NMR Cryoporometry. The intrinsic resolution of the technique is better than the red curve, for SBA-15, which is fully resolved.

Figure 2: Normalised pore size distributions for selected porous silicas, as measured by NMR Cryoporometry. The intrinsic resolution of the technique is better than the red curve, for SBA-15, which is fully resolved.
Neutron Diffraction Cryoporometry (NDC).

Figure 3: Neutron Diffraction Cryoporometry (NDC) - a technique which I originated for studying phases as a function of temperature.


Nano-structured liquids

When in pores, water can remain a stable liquid (i.e. in an equilibrium state) more than 20C° below its usual melting temperature - for other liquids the effect can be even larger. Even when ice is formed under these conditions, it can become much more mobile than normal brittle ice, particularly near surfaces.

We now partly understand this behaviour in these confined systems, at least on the larger length scales, in terms of the changes in the thermodynamic state - in particular, alterations of the local Gibbs Free Energy. However there are still less-well understood effects, such as the effect of pore geometry on the thermodynamic state. As one approaches the atomic scale there is a need to use tools that take into consideration the atomic nature of the system. We are now beginning to apply ab-initio quantum mechanical molecular dynamic calculations to throw more light on the behaviour of liquids and their solids near surfaces (see figure).

3D Model of laminar silicon, with surface films of liquid nitrogen - one timestep from a CASTEP ab-initio QM MD simulation.
3D model of laminar silicon porous system, with surface films of liquid nitrogen - one timestep from a CASTEP ab-initio QM MD simulation.
Follow the IoP link to see our invited paper : Structural and Dynamic Studies of Water in Mesoporous Silicas using Neutron Scattering and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance. Beau Webber and John Dore. Invited article, IoP: Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter - Special Issue: Water in Confined Geometry. 16, S5449-S5470, 2004. PII: S0953-8984(04)78970-5.

IoP publishing :
Structural and Dynamic Studies of Water in
Mesoporous Silicas using Neutron Scattering and
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.
stacks.iop.org/JPhysCM/16/S5449

Water/ice systems at interfaces

It is our current belief, from measuring the nano-scale dynamics using NMR relaxation, and the structure from neutron scattering, that there is a layer about 1nm thick at ice interfaces where there is considerably enhanced rotational motion, resulting in the continual making and breaking of hydrogen bonds - "plastic ice". This may be the nano-scale view of the well-known need for plastic terms in the macroscopic viscous-plastic (VP) or elastic-viscous-plastic (EVP) dynamical models of ice and snow-packs in the environment.

Follow the IoP link to see our paper : Plastic ice in confined geometry: The evidence from neutron diffraction and NMR relaxation. J. Beau W. Webber, John C Dore, John H. Strange, Ross Anderson, Bahman Tohidi. J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 19, 415117, 2007, Special Issue: Proceedings of The International Workshop On Current Challenges in Liquid and Glass Science (The Cosener's House, Abingdon, Uk, 10-12 January 2007).

Follow the Elsevier link to see my invited review paper : Studies of nano-structured liquids in confined geometry and at surfaces. J. Beau W.Webber. Progress in NMR Spectroscopy, 56, 1, 78-93, 2010. DOI: 10.1016/j.pnmrs.2009.09.001
The conclusions are relevant to macroscopic ice- and snow-packs in the environment : It is well known that to describe the macroscopic dynamical flow of snow-packs, glaciers and icebergs a plastic term is needed in addition to brittle and viscous term: (Hunke, E. C., Dukowicz, J. K., 1997. An elastic-viscous-plastic model for sea ice dynamics.)

Dr. Beau Webber was recently awarded measurement time on the nuetron quasi-elastic scattering spectrometer IRIS at ISIS, to further investigate the dynamics of these thin interfacial layers.

Plastic ice in confined geometry: The evidence from neutron diffraction and NMR relaxation.
stacks.iop.org/0953-8984/19/415117


Studies of nano-structured liquids in confined geometry and at surfaces.
DOI:10.1016/j.pnmrs.2009.09.001



Nano-Metrology

Many nano-metrology techniques are based on the Gibbs equations, and use changes in the thermodynamic properties when systems are nano-structured :
  • Gas adsorption,
  • Thermoporosimetry,
  • NMR Cryoporometry.
Of these techniques, NMR Cryoporometry is now often our preferred technique, although the others may provide invaluable comparative information. We have used NMR Cryoporometry in a number of academic research projects and industrial contracts, to measure pore volumes and pore size distributions in materials such as porous carbons, fired and un-fired clays, marine sediments, oil-bearing rocks, meteorite fragments ....

Other techniques are based on scattering :

  • Light scattering,
  • X-ray scattering,
  • Neutron scattering.

Our existing measurements using sol-gel silicas have shown that while the thermodynamic techniques are in close agreement with the scattering measurements for dimensions above 10nm, below this dimension there appears to be an increasing divergence between the scales of the thermodynamic and scattering metrologies.

Dr. Beau Webber has been awarded netron scattering measurement time for nano-metrology at the Institute Laue Langevin (ILL), on the D4 and D22 instruments, and this has enabled him to develop and verify his models. Dr. Beau Webber was recently awarded further measurement time (as first user) on the excellent new wide-scattering range ISIS Target Station 2 instrument NIMROD, and 17 porous samples were measured on this most successful first run, with excellent preliminary results. Simulation models are being run to match the results, and the models, results and conclusions will be presented in a paper.

In all Dr. Beau Webber has been awarded 88 days of neutron scattering beam time for nano-science and nano-metrology, 23 as proposer, at a current notional value of around £11k per day.


Applications

Interesting though this behaviour at the nano-scale is, in its own right, there are also important technological interests in studying such properties of liquids in pores, as the changes in melting point and mobility in confined geometry are indicators for other changes, such as the Gibbs Free Energy, that are relevant to many systems where properties are modified by nano-structure.

Such cases are :

  • catalic action for the chemical industries,
  • high performance batteries,
  • recovery of oil and gas from petroleum and gas hydrate reservoirs,
  • gas hydrate formation and evolution, particularly with respect to global warming,
  • biological systems such as drug uptake by melanised cells, and
  • bio-molecular/water interactions.

Most Recent Grants

EPSRC: EP/D052556/1 : "Capillary controls on gas hydrate growth and dissociation in synthetic and natural porous media: PVT, NMR, Neutron Diffraction and SANS".

In conjunction with Bahman Tohidi and Ross Anderson of the Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University, for three years, to a value of £285,731.
This work has already indicated that for methane hydrate formed in the pore space of model systems, there is a hysteresis in the phase plots.
The environmental impact of this difference between hydrate formation and dissociation temperatures is that, for a marine hydrate, a small rise in sea temperature (say, 0.1 K), which causes the dissociation of some hydrate and the release of some methane gas, may not be reversible by an equivalent drop in sea temperature but instead require a far greater temperature decrease before the hydrate can re-form.
There is an urgent need to determine the magnitude this effect in real marine and lake sediments. Some preliminary answers are being obtained late in this project, now that we understand how to obtain them. see :

Final Grant Report

14 related papers were published during this 3 year project, including :
  • Gas Hydrate Growth and Dissociation in Narrow Pore Networks: Capillary Inhibition and Hysteresis Phenomena. R. Anderson; B Tohidi & J.B.W. Webber. Geological Society of London Conference on Sediment-hosted Gas Hydrates: New Insights on Natural and Synthetic Systems, London, 25-26 January (2006).,  2006.
  • Clathrate formation and dissociation in vapour/water/ice/hydrate systems in SBA-15, Sol-Gel and CPG porous media, as probed by NMR relaxation, novel protocol NMR Cryoporometry, Neutron Scattering and ab-initio quantum-mechanical molecular dynamics simulation.. J. Beau W. Webber; Ross Anderson; John H. Strange & Bahman Tohidi. Magn. Reson. Imaging,  Netherlands, Volume 25, Number 4, Pages 533-536, Elsevier, 2007. [URL]
  • Capillary Pressure Controlled Methane Hydrate and Ice Growth-Dissociation Patterns in Porous Media: Synthetic Silica versus Natural Sandstone. Ross Anderson; Beau Webber & Bahman Tohidi. 6th International Conference on Gas Hydrates, Vancouver, Canada, July 6-10 (2008),  July 6-10, 2008.
Centre for Gas Hydrate Research, Heriot-Watt University.

hysteresis in methane hydrate phase plots


Recent Grants

These two grants have turned out, as work progressed, to both be closely relatated, in that there is a surprising lack of understanding of the behaviour of even the basic systems of a pure polar liquid (water) or a pure a-polar liquid (we use cyclohexane), in well characterised porous systems.

Our progress towards a better understanding, by applying NMR cryoporometry, NMR relaxation and neutron diffraction studies, is covered in this list of our published output during these two simultaneous grants, on the subject of liquids in pores :

Grant related pore-liquid publications : 2003-04 to 2004-12

1) 1D NMR Cryoporometric structural studies of stratified geological samples.

This is part of a larger project :

Behaviour and Modeling of Faults/Fractures/Fluids Systems.

The goal of BMFFFS is to make a step-change in the way that faults are considered in oil exploration and production strategies.

The BMFFFS Project (Behaviour and Modelling of Faults/Fractures/Fluids Systems) is one of a set of six research projects concerned with the theme of "Structurally Complex Reservoirs". This large, themed programme of research - involving projects conducted by a number of international research groups- was brokered by the Industry Technology Facilitator on behalf of its member companies.

This is an international project, on which four groups are working :

Behaviour and Modelling of Faults/Fractures/Fluids Systems

bmfffs project home page

Institute of Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University
Rock Deformation Research Group (RDR), University of Leeds

Rock Deformation Research Group (RDR), University of Leeds

Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A+M University

Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University

School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury.

School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent, Canterbury.


2) The potential of NMR for Gas Hydrate studies.

This is funded through a Scottish Higher Education Funding Council award, for the

Centre for Gas Hydrate Research, Heriot-Watt University.

Naturally occurring methane clathrates have a number of features that give them great significance :
  • Their potential as strategic energy reserve,
  • the possibilities for CO2 disposal by sequestration,
  • increasing awareness of the relationship between hydrates and sub-sea slope stability,
  • the potential dangers posed to deep-water drilling installations, pipelines and sub-sea cables, and
  • long-term considerations with respect to hydrate stability, methane (a potent greenhouse gas) release, and global climate change.
Preliminary NMR cryoporometry pore characterising measurements have already contributed to this work :
Hydrate phase equilibria in porous media: effect of pore size and salinity Kasper K. Østergaard, Ross Anderson, Maria Llamedo and Bahman Tohidi. Terra Nova Volume 14 Issue 5 Page 307 - October 2002.

NMR relaxation measurements offer an interesting way to characterise liquid and gas hydrates forming in porous media, particularly as these measurement may in principle be spatially resolved. The relaxation times are fast, but the apparatus at Kent is well able to resolve these signals.

Initial studies have been made on liquid hydrates in sol-gel silicas. These preliminary studies resolved features that required more fundamental studies to be performed on pure water, in both sol-gel and the highly mono-modal SBA-15 silica, by both NMR relaxation and Neutron Diffraction (see the above IoP paper).

Centre for Gas Hydrate Research, Heriot-Watt University.

A gas hydrate cavity


Recent Grants

1) NMR Cryoporometry measurement of fungal pore size distributions.
(Cryoporometry and melanin particles.)

melanin ghosts (double) This application of NMR cryoporometry, to the study of pores in melanin shells of fungi, is a novel application of cryoporometry into the biological world.

These melanin 'ghosts' offer a clean system for NMR cryoporometry, as there are no changes to the bulk melting point caused by dissolved components in the water, all changes to the melting point coming from the Gibbs-Thomson dimensional effects on the thermodynamics of the system.

Pore changes were related to the melanin treatment history.

Publication : The Architecture of Cell Wall-Associated Melanin in the Human Pathogenic Fungus Cryptococcus Neoforman. Helene C. Eisenman, Joshua D. Nosanchuk, J. Beau W. Webber, Ray J. Emerson, Terri A. Camesano and Arturo Casadevall. Biochemistry, 44, 3683-3693, 2005. DOI: 10.1021/bi047731m

Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, NY.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Yeshiva University, NY

2) Laboratory Tools Design for Industry and Academia.

This Project was funded under the "Time-out for Reach-out" initiative.

Significant advances were made in updating SPS design technology capabilities, and a number of modes of out-reach were explored, including SME data bases, presentations at conferences, and web-based approaches.

Funded projects have since been obtained as a result of this outreach.


Anaylsis and nano- to micro- Metrology Services

I am able to perform contract metrology measurements through my nano-science and nano-metrology company Lab-Tools.

Further information on our bulk metrology program on the nano- through meso- to micro- scale may be found on our nano-metrology pages:

nano-metrology.co.uk
Our application of Nano-Science to Nano-Metrology, as analytic techniques for Industry and Academia.

Instrumentation Design Service

I specialise in designing novel measurement protocols, and have a strong ability to then implement these, using an appropriate combination of the latest hardware and software.

I have sold NMR instrumentation internationally to 8 countries, and also have produced instrumentation for various other disciplines including fibre-optics.

I can generate applications for MS Windows and Unix environments, and for Mac by agreement.


logo: web ring

I created, and am the web-ring master for, the international web-ring for scientific instrumentation.
This aims to provide a common link between those needing, and those able to design, custom and off-the-shelf research instrumentation.

Lab-Tools.com
Scientific Instrumentation and Software for Industry and Academia

Scientific Instrumentation webring
Scientific Instrumentation webring
A WebRing for scientific and technical instrumentation for industry and academia: For finding and advertising off-the-shelf and custom designs and solutions for scientific, technical and industrial instrumentation, based on: any combination of scientific principles and disciplines: physics, astronomy, NMR, optics ...; software: real-time & algebraic languages, LabVIEW, embedded systems ...; technology: computation, (opto-)electronics, pressure, vacuum, high & low temperature


E-mail me : J.B.W.Webber@kent.ac.uk or see my thesis, or go to my folk music page KentFolk.com - cheers, beau webber

2004-12-12 ... 20102-06-28