‘Hola, ¿cómo estás?’, ‘muy bien’, ‘buenos dias’, ‘buenas noches’….

With such a “wide range” of Spanish vocabulary, I was excited when we partnered with ICFO (The Institute of Photonic Sciences) for the STARSTEM proposal. I knew, rather was hoping, I would get a chance to visit Barcelona to get a bit of much-needed Vitamin-D that is in “trophies won by the Liverpool FC in recent past”-level short supply in the soon-to-be European Capital of Culture, Galway City. Oh yea, also to get some work done at Romain’s (Quidant) Nano-optics lab!

What did I do there?

In between long lays and strolls on the beach, I actually got a lot of work done at ICFO. With nanostars that are being optimised at ICFO expected to be highly likely scalable to larger volumes for STARSTEM, the knowledge transfer of the optimisation process from ICFO to TOMI-NUI Galway (Tissue Optics and Microcirculation Imaging) is necessary, so as to reproduce the nanostars locally for the planned in vitro studies at REMEDI (Regenerative Medicine Institute, NUI Galway). This visit was focussed on understanding the optimisation process by shadowing ICFO researchers (thanks to Arantxa Albomaz and Ignacio de Miguel, pictured with me) and getting hands-on experience of the process so that it could be replicated at TOMI-NUIG. We synthesised gold seeds and resulting in a few batches of nanostars without many glitches. At the end of the fruitful visit, we decided on the next course of actions to bring STARSTEM to the next stage with responsibilities shared between TOMI and ICFO.

I also realised Skype isn’t enough for productive collaboration but an actual in-person discussion is!