Visiting scientist Dr Ana Belenguer is a “repeated offender”: native of Spain and based at the University of Cambridge, she is collaborating with the team of Dr Franziska Emmerling in Adlershof on crystalline structure analysis. The Cambridge-Madrid-Berlin connection is proving productive on several levels – from the specific expertise through to the development of an international network.
Ask Ana Belenguer why she has chosen BAM for her research collaboration and her answer is quite clear: it’s because of the high-quality and rigorous studies conducted at BAM, which she has often and gladly used to inform her own further research. The quality of analysis is extremely important to her. So why not to do research together with the institution that is so reliable in this respect and share ideas with the scientists there?
International science in Berlin
The exchange actually began a little earlier – in 2019, to be precise – with the launch of the current COST Action ‘Mechanochemistry for Sustainable Industry’ (Mech@SusInd). COST is an intergovernmental initiative for European cooperation in scientific and technological research. In mechanochemistry, reactions are induced by mechanical forces; no solvents or other additional stimuli are needed. For example, this allows for the synthesis of what are known as co-crystals. If comprised of pharmaceutical molecules, cocrystals can exhibit improved effectiveness.
The first big gathering of all Mech@SusInd participants at BAM in Adlershof took place in July 2019: for two days, scientists from various disciplines discussed the potential of mechanochemistry in terms of the chemical, pharmaceutical, and process engineering industries. The COST Action is set to run until 2023 and includes the participation of 32 European countries, Russia, Canada, China, Mexico, Singapore and the USA. The intention behind such COST Actions is to promote the creation of European and international networks. Beyond facilitating the exchange of scientific ideas, the COST Action aims to promote networking and develop scientists’ research and careers. Many BAM scientists are participating in various COST Actions.
Achieving more together
For Ana Belenguer, this is the perfect opportunity to think outside the box in her research area and to combine her expertise with that of the BAM scientists. She is currently working with PhD students and postdocs on various research projects in the field of structural and environmental analysis. For example, she is involved in in-situ testing on Berlin’s electron storage ring for synchrotron radiation BESSY II and on the German electron synchrotron DESY. The first joint publications are expected in June. The results will further establish mechanochemistry as an alternative synthesis route.
To this end, Ana Belenguer commutes back and forth between Cambridge University, where she works at the Department of Chemistry, and BAM in Adlershof – physically and virtually. Despite temporary border closings there are no limits to further collaboration: for the enthusiastic scientists and research team at BAM, the exchange has already become a welcome routine.