Thursday, 17 June 2021

Croatian Scientists Answer Big Question in Cell Biology

June 1, 2021 - Croatian Scientists from one of the most prominent scientific institutse in Croatia, the Ruđer Bošković Insitute (IRB), answered a big question in cell biology regarding the spindle and cell division that has puzzled scientists for decades.

Croatian scientists from the Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB), more precisely, dr. Kruno Vukušić, Ph.D. students Ivana Ponjavić, Patrik Risteski, and Renata Buđa, lead by professor Iva Tolić, researched and have now answered one of the key questions in cell biology.

When it comes to this field of biology specialised in observing and researching cells that make organisms, the spindle is a structure of eukaryotic cells that form during cell division, which is crucial for organisms (including humans, of course) for growth, repair, and reproduction. The spindle is in charge of the distribution of genetic material, but the exact process and molecular mechanisms of that task has baffled scientists for decades.

The aforementioned IRB scientists had their paper published in a prestigious scientific journal, Developmental Cell: Microtubule-sliding modules based on kinesins EG5 and PRC1-dependent KIF4A drive human spindle elongation. The paper described a precise molecular mechanism of molecular microtubule sliding.

''Given that this is one of the key steps in cell division that happens in almost every organism, a molecular mechanism that expands the spindle was the object of interest of many pieces of research. Even though the last 20 years has seen significant progress in understanding these molecular mechanisms, the identity of the protein needed to expand the spindle remained unknown. The importance of the spindle in human cells is apparent, in the fact that besides being the key trigger of moving chromosomes, it encourages the correct segregation of those chromosomes which, if defected, correlate with cancer,'' they said from the IRB in a press release.

This IRB research showed that the proteins KIF11 and KIF4A are the key proteins that stop the expansion of the spindle. This breakthrough was achieved by ''silencing'' several of the many proteins that participate in the process since the previous methods of silencing proteins one by one didn't offer any new knowledge in understanding this process.

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Risteski, Ponjavić, Vukušić and Tolić © Ruđer Bošković Institute

''We hope that the results of this paper will encourage more new research on the role of expanding the spindle in the final stages of cell division. The results we presented are the start of explaining the control mechanisms of this protein, the work of which is under the strict control of many other factors within the cell itself. In addition, the principle of common work we described in this paper could help scientists in determining molecular mechanisms in other processes that are important in cells,'' elaborated the research leader, professor Iva Tolić.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute Chemist Team Makes Progress in Life Formation Research

June 10, 2021 -  Do you ever wonder how life was formed? Always dedicated to scientific progress, the Ruđer Bošković Institute chemist team made progress in life formation research supporting the theory that the first molecules needed to develop life were formed on the surfaces of minerals in pre-historic times.

Science explores our present reality, but also the past. With many knowledge or credible theories on evolution, the very basic questions such as „how life came to form“, remain unclear. But why?

„Given that condensation (the process of water vapor turning back into liquid) of free amino acids is thermodynamically unfavoruable process in the water medium, it is a great mystery how it came to the formation of peptides before life on earth“, states the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) press release.

It's worth noting that the thermodynamically unfavourabale process means the process is irreversible, which means it can't be reconstructed, and that's why scientists can see the formation of peptides, chains that connect amino acids that are crucial for life.

So, meet prebiotic chemistry – a study of chemistry dedicated to address and discover how organic compounds formed and self-organized for the origin of life, but so far without consensus.

But, progress is made once again thanks to the always active IRB. IRB's chemist team (José G. Hernández, dr Krunoslav Užarević, and Ph.D. student Tomislav Stolar,), in collaboration with colleagues from the pharmaceutical company Xellia (dr. sc. Ernest Meštrović, mag. chem. Saša Grubešić and dr. Nikolaom Cindro from the chemical department at the Faculty of Science (PMF), University of Zagreb), showed that with mechanochemical activation in a solid-state, the amino acids (organic compounds that combine to form proteins, with both being considered „the building blocks of life“) - such as glycine or alanine form peptides on mineral surfaces.

This supports the theory that life molecules could've been formed on Earth's mineral surfaces. The paper titled „Mechanochemical Prebiotic Peptide Bond Formation“, published in the prestigious Angewandte Chemie scientific journal published on behalf of the German Chemical Society presents these findings in greater detail.

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Stolar, Užarević and Hernandez © Ruđer Bošković Institute

„In this research, we showed that mechanochemical activation of free glycin ground with ball mill allows the new oligomers (molecules made of few similar or identical repeating units) by adding minerals that are basic components of earth surface and meteorites. With the identification of organic and inorganic molecules present in the Solar system, it's important in laboratory conditions to develop suitable processes that would explain the presence of these molecules. Such fundamental knowledge can then be applied in modern synthetical chemistry“, said a member of the IRB chemist team Tomislav Stolar. Stolar also participated in developing a new material known as CuZn-MOF-74 on which TCN previously wrote about.

The research was financed by the  Croatian Science Foundation (HRZZ), and the next step is to apply this knowledge to synthesize new chemicals, which was one of the purposes of the research described by HRZZ.

IRB adds that the fact that various geological processes change the earth's surface, there is no historic evidence that could definitely answer how life on Earth was formed. It is believed that the first simple molecules triggered complex molecules to form in a process called chemical evolution and from that, life further continued to develop. Liquids, solid surfaces, or the phases between the two could've been potential conditions for these reactions, and mechanical energy sources were most likely found in meteor strikes, erosion, earthquakes, and more while thermal energy was most likely supplied by geothermal sources.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Coastal Hazard Monitoring: New Method Developed by Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) Scientist-Led Team

June 3, 2021 - With climate change bringing trouble to the coast, coastal hazard monitoring is a must. Meet the new method developed by a research team led by a scientist from Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB).

Individuals from the scientific Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) in Zagreb continue to catch the attention of internationally established scientific journals, such as Marine Science ranked in the top 10% of magazines for the issues of sea and water biology.

This time, IRB's dr. Cléa Denamiel led an international research team that presented an innovative concept of warning on coastal hazards with stochastic methods.
Authors at Standford.edu in a pdf presentation are presenting stochastic methods as methods that involve random variables. They gave an example of multiple arrows flying towards a rock from multiple directions. When they hit the rock, arrows are positioned randomly.

„Nevertheless, you can still use their positions to estimate the location of the target“, explained Standford.edu presentation.

So, the presentation further elaborated that „like using randomly-positioned arrows to estimate the position of a target, stochastic methods have the goal of gaining information out of randomness“.

„To put it simply, current systems of warning are based on numerical methods that require advanced informatical resources, living a huge carbon dioxide print on the environment, while with the suggested appliance of stochastic methods to optimize forecast of coastal hazards and greatly reduce the need for informatics resources while taking elements of coincidence into account“, explained IRB in its official press release.

This is very important as coastal areas are under the increasing influence of climate hazards, particularly sea-level rise. IRB states that its predicted hazards related to sea level directly impact around 630 million people around the world by 2100.

The new method of warning and quantifying data on coastal hazards presented by dr. Denamiel and her team is innovative as all current systems for such monitoring are much more complexed as they are based on numerical models from kilometer to the meter of clearance.“The suggested approach would require fewer resources while keeping or even improving forecasts and assessments of coastal hazards“, concluded, dr. Ivica Vilibić from IRB.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Ionic Liquids With Solid State Nanopores: New Valuable Progress From Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB)

May 28, 2021 - A recently published study on ionic liquids with solid state nanopores at the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) can help the energy storage sector.

The top scientific and research institution in Croatia, the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB), continues to be the home of interesting scientific progress.

Researchers from the IRB's computer bioscience team, Nataša Vučemilović-Alagić, and dr. Mario Špadina under the mentorship of dr. Ana Sunčana Smith cleared the phenomenon of transport inside liquids on the principle of nanopores in the solid-state. A nanopore is a small cavity in solid matter, invisible to the naked eye. This IRB research was done in collaboration with dr. Sanjin Marion and dr. Aleksandra Rađenović from École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and the research results are published in the prestigious scientific journal Small which specializes in nanotechnology.

Professor Ana Sunčana Smith's IRB team deals with molecular descriptions of chemical and physical interactions of ionic liquids (liquids that are not neutral but have either positive or negative electric charge) on various solid surfaces. The goal was to determine the impact of specific ions and specific surfaces. The appliance of this knowledge is in line with guidelines of the EU Green Deal, and the UN sustainable development goals", explained IRB in the official press release.

The press release added this knowledge is useful in storing energy, as ionic liquids in nanopores represent an alternative to batteries.

„In this research, starting from the principle of water solutions, we combine ionic fluids and nanopores of different geometric features and materials to secure new nanofluid functionalities. This solves some of the relevant issues in the understanding of basic principles of transports in space-limited ionic liquids and ensuring better control of the speed of translocating within an analyte“, explained Dr. Ana Sunčana Smith.

It's worth noting that dr. Sunčana Smith is one of the Croatian scientists that received support from the Croatian European Research Council (ERC) for a very prestigious project in researching biological membranes worth 1,5 million euros.

Energy efficiency is something IRB shows to be really dedicated to, as evident by the progress IRB researchers made in exploring materials for converting CO2 to methanol alcohol, and IRB's Rovinj Sea Research Centre that celebrated 130 years of existence this year priorities maritime ecology and its protection in its research.

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Rovinj Sea Research Centre Celebrating 130 Years of Work

May 18, 2021 - The Rovinj Sea Research Centre turns 130 in 2021. It is the place in Croatia for oceanographic research and all things science related to the preservation of the sea and maritime life.

Established back in 1891 as Berlin's Aquarium Zoological Station, the research Institute is known today as the Rovinj Sea Research Centre (CIM), and last week it celebrated 130 years of work. An affiliate of the Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB), that institute recently reported that CIM currently has 54 employees working in four laboratories, and the centre is heavily involved in numerous impressive scientific projects.

''This includes five projects of the Croatian Science Foundation (HrZZ), worth 5,855 635 HRK, three projects financed within the INTERREG cross border programme (worth 1,326 000 euros), three projects with European structural and investment funds (7,189 531 HRK), and two projects financed within the EU programme for research and innovations, OBZOR 2020, valued at 179,360 euros,“ says the IRB official website.

The section of the IRB page dedicated to CIM adds that the centre offers a multidisciplinary take on the research of the sea, offering both basic and applicable oceanographic research. This includes six areas of interest: processes and dynamics in the food chain, examining the dynamics of water masses, ecology (species and the interrelations of species in both clean and in polluted waters), sea organism research (ecological, physiological, and genetic features of organisms, and a pollution effects study), the monitoring of pollution and sea quality, and finally, the monitoring of eutrophication (a process in which the environment becomes enriched with nutrients which can trigger the development of algae and cause an imbalance in the ecosystem).

Set in the beautiful town of Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula because of the clear waters of the Adriatic sea, CIM is on a mission to preserve marine life and its biodiversity.

CIM truly has a rich tradition, having conducted international systematic research and monitoring of the marine ecosystem of the Northern Adriatic for over 30 years. ''This approach became a model for the regional organisation of the European systematic monitoring of the coastal sea,'' says IRB.

IRB adds that in this long tradition, the Croatian science programme of monitoring the Northern Adriatic played a huge role. Having begun fifty years ago, it developed into the Jadran Project, making Croatia one of the first countries in all of Europe to have developed a systematic approach to the monitoring of the sea.

''Additional confirmation of the tradition and scientific quality of CIM can also be seen in the recent joining of CIM to JERICO – the Joint European Research Infrastructure network for Coastal Observatory, making CIM a partner of some of the most famous European Institutes“, concluded the IRB's explanation.

Learn more about Beaches in Croatia on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 14 May 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) Open Doors in 2021: Virtual Event To Present Science to Public in May

May 15, 2021 -The Ruđer Bošković Institute of Science (IRB), the top science facility in Croatia, is hosting a public event. Despite the event being online, the educational and entertaining side of the 17-year-old manifestation won't go amiss.  

With the pandemic still causing havoc, events happen either with a limited number of visitors or in the virtual world. And with Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB) being both socially responsible and brilliant in using modern technologies in the best possible matter - chose the latter. The doors of the Ruđer Bošković Science Insitute, from May 18th until May 22nd, unlike previous years, will not be as open as they were before for the public, but the scientific platforms which will be launched on the ODI2021 website aim to ensure an educational and fun experience.

The doors will be open to ''children of all ages, their parents, teachers, students, professors and everyone with a curious and open mind and an adventurous spirit“, IRB stated, welcoming people to join the platform in the description of their Facebook event announcement.

All the content will be available on social media under the following hashtags: #odi2021hibrid, #odi2021, and #istraziplatforme.

Additionally, you can follow the event on Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Ruđer Bošković, painted by R. Edge Pine in London, 1760 © public domain

The Ruđer Bošković Institute is named after Ruđer Bošković, a famous Croatian scientist and philosopher (May 18, 1711, in Dubrovnik - February 13, 1787, in Milan).  

The online edition of the Croatian Encyclopedia describes Ruđer Bošković as a universal mind that enrolled in various branches of science, was an excellent mathematician, and even a writer, and a poet who also dealt with practical problems such as swamp drainages and more.

''Bošković was the first person in the history of science to introduce the method of the equation of measurement by setting up two conditions that P.S Laplace later explained in a mathematical form, which is why it's called Laplace's method (in recent times it has been referred to as the Bošković.Laplace method)“, according to the Croatian Encyclopedia.

As Biografija.hr states, the IRB Institute was established back in 1950 and was originally focused on atomic physics. Today, however, IRB is the largest scientific research institution in all of Croatia.

''With its size, scientific productivity, international recognition in research, and the quality of scientific personnel and research equipment, it's the leading scientific institution for nature and biomedical sciences, as well as in the research of the sea and the environment“, says the IRB website.  

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© Ratko Mavar / Institut Ruđer Bošković

The aforementioned success and recognition saw the Ruđer Bošković Institute's open door day, which has been being held since back in 2004, and attracts huge public attention. Three thousand people attended the event back in 2019, making it an excellent opportunity to popularise and introduce science to people of all ages, in the hope society will appreciate scientists' hard work more on the one hand, and attract new generations to pursue scientific or research careers on the other.  

Learn more about Croatian inventions & discoveries: from Tesla to Rimac on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Ruđer Bošković Science Institute Combats Climate Change by Developing New Material

May 5, 2021 - With ecology being the key to survival, the Ruđer Bošković Science Institute combats climate change by developing a new material known as CuZn-MOF-74.

The pandemic is nasty, the nuclear holocaust is a scary thought, but greenhouse gases remain an omnipresent potential for the death of us as they trigger climate change on whose negative effects scientists have been warning us about for decades. 

Like the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency informs on its websitethese gases trap the heat in the atmosphere, which in terms raises the temperature we experience. 

The website lists the main types of these airier troublemakers:

CO2 (Carbon dioxide - enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees, and other biological materials, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions. It is removed by plants that use it for photosynthesis – a process that provides food for the pants and oxygen for other beings).

CH4 (Methane-emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil. Methane emissions also result from livestock and other agricultural practices, land use, and the decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills).

N2O (Nitrous oxide - emitted during agricultural, land use, industrial activities, combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste, as well as during treatment of wastewater).

Last but not least:

Fluorinated gases ( such as Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes. Fluorinated gases are sometimes used as substitutes for stratospheric ozone-depleting substances. These gases are typically emitted in smaller quantities, but because they are potent greenhouse gases, they are sometimes referred to as High Global Warming Potential gases) 

Each of these gases can stay in the atmosphere for a very long time, and transferring these gases into something else is a challenge to beat. Fortunately, at least for carbon dioxide, we might be getting closer to the solution than we think.

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Pixabay

Ruđer Bošković Science Institute (IRB) in Croatia reported on its website that they are at the brink of a new material that can selectively transform carbon dioxide into methanol alcohol. The green chemists in Zagreb were closely cooperating with colleagues from the Slovenian Chemical Institute (KI), and McGill University in Canada. The results of their mutual research, in a more further scientific detail, are published in a scientific article on the prestigious ACS Publications

But in the summarization, doctoral candidates Tomislav Stolar and Valentina Martinez, alongside dr. Bahar Karadeniz, under the lead of dr. Krunoslav Užarević (IRB), and dr Tomislav Friščić (McGill University) developed a bi-metal proposal coordination material known as CuZn-MOF-74. The layman speaking complex name is owned to the fact it's made from copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) using a mechanic-chemical method of making bi-metal metalorganic networks known as MOF-74. As TCN previously reported, that method is an environmentally sustainable synthetic strategy that is further elaborated in a scientific article in 2019.

The catalytical properties of this material were tested KI in Ljubljana with the help of the scientists from the Institute: dr. Blaž Likozar, dr. Gregor Mali, dr. Ana Bjalić, and Anže Prašnikar.

The results have shown that this material has a modest catalyst (meaning it speeds up) activity to synthesize methanol, and post-reaction presented the scientists with a non-porous material which showed multiple enhancement of both catalyzation and selection for methanol synthetization.

„This research is a good example of multidisciplinary and international collaboration between strong research centers in the region. To me, as a young scientist, it's important that I can work on the current issues, such as transforming carbon dioxide into methanol, thanks to the guidance of dr. Užarević. There is a big potential for switching to sustainable chemical processes through the program of European Green plan, and research in that field should be the priority“, said the lead author Tomislav Stolar, a doctoral candidate in the IRB's laboratory for green synthesis.   

The IRB official website added that the search for an effective catalyzation to transform carbon dioxide into methanol is the focus of scientists worldwide. Methanol could also be then used as a fuel and replace the current fossil products.

Today you already have the term „Methanol Economy“ that predicts methanol will impose as the vital compound to store energy, as a fuel, and a source of carbon to synthesize valuable compounds. Efficient synthesis of methanol from carbon dioxide presents an example of sustainable chemical reaction of added value, and with great economic potential“, concludes the press release on IRB.

Apart from IRB scientists combating climate change, Croatia takes care of the environment, particularly national parks on whom you can learn more on our TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 1 February 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute's Chemists Develop New Method for Waste PET Degradation

ZAGREB, 31 January, 2021 - Chemists at Zagreb's Ruđer Bošković Institute have developed a new method for the efficient degradation of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic, thus earning Very Important Paper (VIP) status and the cover page of the ChemSuSChem journal for their study.

The IRB says in a press release the latest results of research by IRB chemists show that mechanochemical milling and ageing, as two complementary solid-state techniques, have the potential for alkaline degradation of waste PET plastics and PET textile on larger scales as well.

PET is a synthetic polyester widely used in the production of soft-drink bottles and textile fibres. PET is a thermoplastic made of repeating units of terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol, linked together via an ester bond. Hence the popular name polyester, which is mostly used in the textile industry.

The ester linkage can be cleaved by hydrolysis to transform PET waste back into its monomer constituents. Current chemical methods of PET recycling require the use of organic solvents at high temperatures and pressures to achieve depolymerization into monomer derivatives in practical yields.

Exploring the possibilities of using ball milling in the process of PET depolymerization, Dr Vjekoslav Štrukil from the RBI Laboratory for Physical-Organic Chemistry successfully decomposed PET into monomer terephthalic acid at ambient temperature and pressure, with terephthalic acid being also the starting material for the production of this plastic.

"It is interesting to note that the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in 2019 included mechanochemistry, as well as the degradation of polymers into monomers, into the ten chemical innovations that will change the world. Despite that, mechanochemical depolymerisation of PET was not described in scientific literature," said Dr Šrukil.

The IRB paper "Highly Efficient Solid-State Hydrolysis of Waste Polyethylene Terephthalate by Mechanochemical Milling and Vapor-Assisted Aging" was published in the prestigious journal ChemSusChem and owing to the remarkable reviews, the paper was ranked among the top five percent publications in the field, thus earning a Very Important Paper (VIP) status. Furthermore, the editorial board featured this study on its cover.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Indigenous Croatian Species Congeria Kusceri Up For 'Mollusc of the Year'

January 20, 2021 – Let's be honest, Croatia has a lot more photogenic inhabitants than this. But, from over 120 molluscs registered, the indigenous Croatian species Congeria kusceri have been chosen as one of the top five finalists in this year's Mollusc of the Year competition.

There's actually quite a good reason why Congeria kusceri isn't so photogenic – it lives underground. In fact, Congeria kusceri comes from the Congeria genus, which are the only known freshwater underground shellfish in the world. Most of this genus has sadly become extinct. However, three members of the family survive in this region - Congeria jalzici which can be found in Slovenia, northern Velebit and northwestern Lika, Congeria mualomerovici which lives in the Sana basin in Bosnia, and Congeria kusceri which is endemic to underground cave systems of the Neretva and Trebišnjica basins in Herzegovina and southern Dalmatia. Although, that wasn't always the case.

3.-Congeria-kusceri_1.jpgCongeria kusceri are albino molluscs, having lost their pigmentation while living away from sunlight. They live in southern Dalmatia, whose strongly supported football club, Hajduk Split, are also associated with the colour white © The Croatian Biospeleological Society (CBSS)

The ancestors of these molluscs used to live on the surface of lakes. Some of the molluscs followed the flow of water downstream and ended up inhabiting cave systems underground. Those which were able to adapt to a life of complete darkness survived. Having existed for so long in such a sunless environment, Congeria kusceri have lost their pigmentation - another reason we might consider them unphotogenic.

Congeria kusceri is on the Croatian Red List of Cave Fauna, in the category of critically endangered species, and at the European level, it is protected by the Directive on the Protection of Natural Habitats and Wild Fauna and Flora of the European Union. It is extremely rare. To date, these molluscs have been found in only fifteen underground locations of the Dinaric karst region.

Metkovic.pngThe Predolac hill in Metković © Jure Grm

The largest living colony of Congeria kusceri that we so far know about can be found at the foot of the Predolac hill in Metković. Congeria kusceri is around two centimetres in length. Once part of a flourishing mollusc family, most of the Congeria genus died out around five million years ago. The genus was considered to be entirely extinct until shells of recently deceased individuals were found near Vrgorac in 1934. Congeria kusceri's new cousins - Congeria jalzici and Congeria mualomerovici – were only described and recognised as distinct sub-species as recently as 2013.

The Mollusc of the Year competition is run by the Senckenberg Research Institute and Museum, and the Centre for Translational and Genomic Biodiversity (TBG) in Frankfurt. Congeria Kusceri's success in being chosen as one of the finalists was announced by the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb.

Voting for Mollusc of the Year is open to the public. Anyone who is not too shellfish with their time and who may wish to support this endangered Croatian underdog in the competition can vote here

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Ruđer Bošković Institute Builds 100% Spy-Free Communications System

September 3, 2020 – Scientists from the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb were integral to an international effort to realise the world's first fully functioning quantum communication network. 100% spy-free, it's the communication system of the future

Despite what some apps tell you, no online communication is completely secure. However, we have moved one step closer to that becoming a reality thanks, in part, to quantum physicists from the Ruđer Bošković Institute (RBI) in Zagreb.

Working in collaboration with scientists from the University of Bristol (UK) and the Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the international team have built the world's first fully functioning quantum communication network.

Quantum communication is a well-known field of applied quantum physics. For years, one of its most interesting applications has been regarded as its ability to protect information channels against eavesdropping. It does this by using quantum cryptography.

The security of quantum transmissions are ensured by the no-cloning theorem. This makes reproduction, or cloning, of a quantum system impossible without instant detection. If someone attempts to read the encoded data, the quantum state will be changed via the no-cloning theorem. Quantum communication is also much faster than traditional methods of communication because entangled photons can transmit information instantaneously.

The computer and communications systems of the future have been on the radar for a long time. Industry giants like Google and IBM are already investing millions in quantum computer hardware research in anticipation of our sure-fire futures.

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The team of scientists from the Ruđer Bošković Institute involved in the breakthrough © Ruđer Bošković Institute

The difficulty of introducing quantum communications has been the construction of a large and easily expandable quantum-protected network. It's proven incredibly complicated to build a template for a potentially limitless number of users while also maintaining connection stability. But, that's exactly what the international team containing scientists from the Ruđer Bošković Institute have done.

The scientists from the Ruđer Bošković Institute designed and made the optical receivers for the network. This is the part of the system that will be employed by the end-user. The team of Croatian scientists from the Ruđer Bošković Institute involved in the breakthrough includes Dr Martin Lončarić, Dr Mario Stipčević and Željko Samec. The team published their world first in the prestigious scientific journal Science Advances.

Founded in 1950, the Ruđer Bošković Institute is the largest Croatian research institute working in the fields of natural sciences and technology. It operates in many different areas of scientific research, has been responsible for countless scientific discoveries and employs over 500 academics and students. It has an annual budget of over 20 million Euros and receives the majority of its funding from the Croatian state.

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