Skip to main content
National Deuteration Facility - News archive
Science Highlights

National Deuteration Facility - News archive

Recent news and highlights can be found here

News archive 2019

23/10/2019 - NDF welcomes David Moeller for internship

NDF is pleased to welcome David Moeller, who has travelled from Ilmenau in Germany to complete an Internship at ANSTO as part of his Biotechnical Chemistry degree. After the completion of his Bachelors Thesis David plans to go on to study his Masters degree in Biochemistry in Cologne. David is working with Dr Rob Russell on the biosynthesis of deuterated sterols.

David Moeller working in NDF labs

21/10/2019 - NDF welcomes Laura Hallam as part of ANSTO Graduate Program

NDF is pleased to welcome Laura Hallam, who is joining NDF staff from October 2019-June 2020 as part of a rotation with ANSTO's Graduate Program.  Laura completed a Bachelor of Medicinal Chemistry with Honours from University of Wollongong in 2018. Laura's previous rotation at ANSTO was in the Nuclear Fuel Cycle research theme.

Laura Hallam

18/09/2019 - Marina Cagnes on secondment to ACNS

Marina Cagnes, laboratory technician for the NDF, is on secondment for 12 months to the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering at ANSTO.
Marina will be acting as the Laboratory Manager.

09/07/2019 - NDF participates in 23rd AINSE Winter School

Dr Anwen Krause-Heuer gave a talk on the National Deuteration Facility to the participants of the AINSE Winter School held at Lucas Heights. This school is an opportunity for students from universities in Australia and New Zealand to visit ANSTO and learn about the facilities and research opportunities on offer. Dr Rao Yepuri, Dr Rhys Murphy and Dr Agata Rekas also joined the students for the research round-up poster session and networking dinner.

02/07/2019 - Karyn Wilde represents NDF at European Conference on Neutron Scattering

Karyn Wilde presented a talk entitled "New Horizons for Molecular Deuteration: Diversity in Molecules and Applications"  at the European Conference of Neutron Scattering held in St Petersburg, Russia. 

Karyn Wilde attending ECNS 2019

24/06/19 - Anwen Krause-Heuer lectures at ANSTO-HZB Neutron School

Dr Anwen Krause-Heuer presented a lecture on Deuteration at the ANSTO-HZB Neutron School.  The school is an introduction to neutron scattering techniques, covering small angle, diffraction, inelastic, reflectometry, imaging and strain scanning for PhD students and Post Doctoral fellows.

Participants from the ANSTO-HZB Neutron school 2019

19/06/19 - Annual rewards and recognition for NDF staff

The National Deuteration Facility celebrated their achievements over the 2019 financial year with their annual Rewards and Recognition awards.

These were awarded in four categories:

  1. Best Journal Paper: Rhys Murphy was recognised for his contribution to the development of a new screening method to confirm if deuteration improves metabolic stability
  2. Commercial/Industry Interaction Colleague: James Howard ​​​​​​was recognised for his continued contribution to the commercial business of the NDF
  3. Safety and Quality Colleague: Karyn Wilde was celebrated for her continued contributions to the integration of documentation and workings of the chemistry and biology teams of the NDF 
  4. Delivery and Productivity Colleague: Rao Yepuri was celebrated for his contributions to the number of completed molecules this financial year

Award winners from NDF 2019 rewards and recognition

 19/02/19 - Deuterated lipids as proxies for the physical properties of native bilayers

Gary Bryant, Matthew Taylor, Tamim Darwish, Anwen Krause-Heuer, Ben Kent, Christopher Garvey

Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 2019, 177, 196-203 DOI: 10.1016/j.colsurfb.2019.01.040

Deuterated phospholipids are frequently used in the elucidation of membrane structure and function using techniques such as neutron scattering, nuclear magnetic resonance and vibrational spectroscopy. Most of these studies assume that the properties of the deuterated lipids are identical to the protiated lipids. A recent publication in collaboration with researchers from the National Deuteration Facility, RMIT University, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering has studied the properties of deuterated lipids in both the gel and fluid phases and found that deuterated chains cause a reduction in the gel-fluid phase transition temperature, as well as a reduction in the lamellar spacing and bilayer thickness.

DPPC lipid transition temperature


07/02/19 - Lorne Metabolomics Symposium & Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function

Karyn Wilde (NDF Protein Labelling Specialist) attended the 1st Lorne Metabolomics Symposium and  44th Lorne Conference on Protein Structure and Function in February 2019. She will be presenting posters titled “Bespoke deuterated lipid molecules for structure function applications from the National Deuteration Facility“ and “The National Deuteration Facility: isotopic labelling of proteins for structure function applications” respectively.

03/02/19 - 9th Australian Colloid and Interface Symposium, Hobart

Dr James Howard attended the 9th Australian Colloid and Interface Symposium held in Hobart, Tasmania in the first week of February 2019. Here he presented a talk about the latest deuteration efforts by the National Deuteration Facility for projects involved in colloidal and interfacial sciences. During his attendance at the conference, James met with existing collaborators and made new connections, and was very impressed with the organisation and quality of the conference. Attendees of the conference were quite excited to hear about the NDF’s recent capability developments, in particular, deuterated cholesterol, deuterated phytantriol and deuterated cellulose.

With the conference finished James had the opportunity to visit the University of Tasmania to present the National Deuteration Facility's work and meet staff of the chemistry department. The department was a delight to visit and much interest was taken in the NDF’s abilities to provide deuterated material for researchers.

9th Australian Colloid and interface symposium logo


15/01/19 - J-PARC Workshop: Deuterium Labeling Study for Neutron Science

Dr Tamim Darwish presented a plenary lecture entitled "Advances of Deuterium Labelling at the Australian National Deuteration Facility” at the J-PARC Workshop2018. This workshop was attended by 45 participants from universities, research institutes and industry, with the main discussion focus around the activities of monomer and polymer deuteration and their application to neutron science.

JPARC workshop participants

News archive 2018

03/12/18 - Australasian Community for Advanced Organic Semiconductors (AUCAOS) Symposium 2018

Dr Tamim Darwish presented a talk at the Australasian Community for Advanced Organic Semiconductors (AUCAOS) Symposium held in South Australia.

Further information on the symposium can be found here.

02/12/18 - Asian Biophysics Association Symposium

Dr Anthony Duff represented the National Deuteration Facility at the Asian Biophysics Association Symposium in conjunction with the Australian Institute for Biophysics Meeting, held in Melbourne, Victoria.

28/11/18 - 4th Australian Lipid Meeting

Dr Tamim Darwish presented a talk on the National Deuteration Facility at the 4th Australian Lipid Meeting held at the University of Sydney. The talk was entitled "Heavy Lipid Molecules from the National Deuteration Facility for Structure Function Applications".

4th Australian Lipid Meeting

19/11/18 - ANBUG-AINSE Neutron Scattering Symposium 

Professor Peter Holden, Dr Anwen Krause-Heuer and Dr Anthony Duff represented the National Deuteration Facility at the ANBUG-AINSE Neutron Scattering Symposium. Anwen presented a talk entitled 'New contrast options - diversity and specificify of deuteration'

Further details of the meeting can be found here:

Neutron Scattering symposium 2018

18/11/18 - RACI Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology conference

Dr James Howard presented a poster entitled "Deuterium Labelling in Medicinal Chemistry at the National Deuteration Facility (NDF), ANSTO" at the RACI Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology Conference, held in Brisbane.

Further details of the meeting can be found here:

Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology conference logo

23/10/18 - Successful Funding for ANSTO-University of Wollongong collaboration 

Congratulations to Dr Rob Russell and his collaborators from University of Wollongong and Australian Synchrotron who were successful in receiving a seeding fund from ANSTO-University of Wollongong (UoW) Joint Research Projects 2018 scheme.  Typically 6 projects per year are awarded. 

An application by Dr Ana Heitor (UoW) entitled “Soil stabilization using biopolymer xanthan gum” has received $10,000 in funding. The project is in collaboration with Dr Rob Russell of the National Deuteration Facility  and Dr Pimm Vongsvivut ‐ Infrared Microspectroscopy Beamline Scientist at the Australian Synchrotron.

This study aims to investigate the potential use of a biopolymer (xanthan gum) for stabilizing soft soil underlying transport infrastructure (road and rail). The synthesis and deuteration of xanthan gum will be used to study biopolymer/soil particle interaction in the hydrated state.

20/09/18 - Cellulose Dissolution in Ionic Liquid: Ion Binding Revealed by Neutron Scattering

Vikram Singh Raghuwanshi, Yachin Cohen, Guillaume Garnier, Christopher J. Garvey, Robert A. Russell, Tamim Darwish, and Gil Garnier.

Macromolecules 2018, 7649-7655 DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.8b01425

Dissolution of cellulose in 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate (EMIMAc) ionic liquid (IL) was investigated by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) with contrast variation. Cellulose and EMIMAc of different deuteration levels provide sufficient contrast in revealing the cellulose dissolution processes.



The deuterated cellulose was produced in the National Deuteration Facility by microbial cells that excrete cellulose nanofibers into their surrounding growth medium. The cells are adapted to growth on D2O (heavy water) and provided deuterated carbon source from which the cellulose is produced.

Deuterated ionic liquid, also from the National Deuteration Facility, was synthesised using a combination of hydrothermal and organic chemistry.

The SANS experiments were performed by Chris Garvey from the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering (Quokka instrument scientist) and researchers from Monash University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

07/09/18 - Probing liquid crystalline phases for drug delivery applications

Nageshwar R. Yepuri, Andrew J. Clulow, Richard N. Prentice, Elliot P. Gilbert, Adrian Hawley, Shakila B. Rizwan, Ben J. Boyd, Tamim Darwish

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science 2019, 534, 399-407 DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2018.09.022

Amphiphilic lipids have the potential to form inverse hexagonal and cubic liquid crystalline phases when they are hydrated by the penetration of organised water channels into the lipid matrix. They have garnered much interest due to their potential to act as biocompatible, environment-responsive delivery vehicles for hydrophobic drugs and membrane-bound peptides/proteins.

Phytantriol is a versatile lipid that forms cubic and hexagonal phases under treatment-relevant conditions and this can be used as a switch to trigger controlled drug release. Phytantriol is also an interfacially-active lipid used by the cosmetics industry that is chemically robust, non-digestible and tends to form particles with bicontinuous cubic phase structures when dispersed with non-ionic surfactants.

To develop effective dosing strategies, phytantriol particles are dispersed in aqueous solution using surfactants to stabilise the large interfacial area formed by internal water channels within the structured lipid particles.

Deuterated phytantriol cubosomes

In a recent publication in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, researchers from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Otago and ANSTO, studied deuterated phytantriol-d39 using small angle neutron scattering (SANS) and small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to confirm that the dispersed nanoparticles comprising phytantriol-d39 in D2O formed similar liquid crystalline phases as their natural isotopic abundance counterparts.

SANS  is an ideal technique for probing the structuring of non-ionic surfactants that stabilise phytantriol-based liquid crystalline particles.

In addition, using deuterated phytantriol, it is possible to obtain excellent contrast between different materials and organic liquid crystalline particles, which enables better resolution of the interfaces within the samples and of the changes that occur.

In this investigation, researchers from the National Deuteration Facility demonstrated the first viable synthesis for the preparation of phytantriol-d39 from phytanic acid. The deuterated version of phytantriol reproduced the liquid crystalline phases observed for hydrogenous phytantriol when dispersed in D2O with Pluronic F127 and Tween 80.

For the first time, the structuring of non-ionic surfactants that stabilise phytantriol-based liquid crystalline particles has been observed by SANS. The different cubic phase structures formed by these two surfactants at room temperature correspond to different organisation of the surfactant stabilisers within cubosomes comprising different intertwining channel structures.

The highly-deuterated phytantriol-d39 described can be used to distinguish or remove signals from phytantriol in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic, mass spectrometric and neutron scattering investigations.

These studies show the strong potential for phytantriol-d39 to play a leading role in the future understanding of the molecular-level interactions of nanostructured particles with blood plasma proteins, exogenous surfactants used as excipients/co-dispersants, components of the digestive milieu and drugs.

25/07/18 - NDF celebrates staff achievements

The National Deuteration Facility held their annual Rewards and Recognition to celebrate staff and team achievements for the 2017/2018 financial year.
These were awarded in four categories, with nominations coming from NDF staff and assessed by an independent panel.

Best Journal PaperAnwen Krause-Heuer was recognised for her contribution to the Nature Communications article that used deuterated materials to study nanoparticle surface structure.​​​​​

Commercial/Industry Interaction Colleague: James Howard was recognised for his contributions to a number of commercial projects that generated significant revenue for NDF

Safety and Quality Colleague: Marina Cagnes was celebrated for her continued contributions to the safety of both the chemistry and biology teams of NDF and always striving for continuous improvement.

Delivery and Productivity ColleagueKaryn Wilde was celebrated for her contributions of numerous final molecules for completed proposals within the biology team

15/05/18 - First publication from PELICAN and National Deuteration Facility

The first paper has been published that utilised materials synthesised by the National Deuteration Facility for a study conducted on the cold neutron time-of-flight spectrometer PELICAN at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering.

The publication entitled “Measuring the excitations in a new S=1/2 quantum spin chain material with competing interactions” was based on work conducted by Honours student Jack Zanardo from the University of Wollongong under the supervision of Dr Kirrily Rule from the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering and Associate Professor Michael Lerch from the University of Wollongong.

Inelastic neutron scattering experiments were and used to study the magnetic properties of a spin ½ one dimensional chain, utilizing catena-dichloro(2-chloro-3-methylpyridine)copper(II) to investigate the frustration in a J2/J1 system.

However neutron scattering from hydrogenous material is known to contribute a high background from the large incoherent scattering cross section of H. It was anticipated that in the protonated version of this material (as grown previously) the H would swamp the weak inelastic signal from an S=1/2 Cu2+ ion, therefore a deuterated ligand was used. The deuterated 2-chloro-3-methylpyridine ligand, synthesised by Dr Anwen Krause-Heuer from the Chemical Deuteration team from the National Deuteration Facility.

The interest in this material stems from the relative orientation of the non-magnetic ligand relative to the Cu-chains. This was predicted to induce a range of different J1 interaction and change the inelastic scattering profile.

From the PELICAN data, combined with detailed spin-wave modelling, it appears most likely that the Cu spin-chains formed regions of predominantly one J1 interaction at a time. Thus this system appears to have a random yet equal populations of the differently orientated ligand where chains appear to contain a run of the same orientation. This allows the spinwaves to propagate through the lattice, giving rise to the observed spin excitations. Thus we have been able to confirm that the structural differences did indeed lead to different exchange interactions between neighbouring Cu ions.

It appears most likely that the spin chains formed sections of predominantly one J1interaction at a time. Thus this system appears to have a random yet equal population of the orientation of the ligand where chains appear to contain a run of the same orientation which allows the spinwaves to propagate through the lattice. The structural differences did indeed lead to different exchange interactions between neighbouring Cu ions. It would be very difficult to isolate the structurally different regions to tune particular magnetic properties.

The full publication can be found here.