From UT to Utah (part two)

Hi again, guys! Already two months have passed since I arrived in the States. Everything is going by so fast!

Well, let’s start with the good news: I am achieving good results at work! Finally, I have mastered the technique of manufacturing my own electrodes. Remember from my last entry: I needed to prepare my own electrodes with cyanide etching and manually polish all of them.

Well, remember my success rate in getting good electrodes? One out of ten. Now it is one out of three/four; even the people here are surprised about how fast I mastered the technique. I am really happy about that.

But there is one big problem: the experiments that I am doing are rather difficult. The research consists in studying the nucleation rate of oxygen nanobubbles on top of those electrodes. Nobody has done it before, but here in this group, they have done it with hydrogen bubbles. When we started this new project with oxygen, their expectation was to obtain similar results as with hydrogen.

Álvaro in the Canyonlands

But it seems that everything behaves rather differently! I have discovered that hydrogen destabilizes the electrode and, consequently, I do not get reproducible results.

However – and here there is the good news – I have managed to discover a treatment that makes the electrode much more stable in this case scenario! Yeah!

Right now, I am working on that treatment in order to obtain something that can be publishable, and of course, I keep studying the nucleation rates of oxygen bubbles: the results that I am obtaining are much more reproducible, but there is still some spread in the data.

(I cannot show you pictures right now, because everything is under progress and I don’t have something beautiful to show, but I promise my fellow MCEC readers that during the MCEC School, I will talk about this in detail. A future publication on this topic is being discussed right now, so in the future, there will be an article concerning the experiments done during my stay in Utah*.)

Skin colour
Concerning my life here, everything is going great. It is getting warmer and warmer every day, now we are at around 40 ˚C. The good thing is that it is super dry, so when you seek out the shade, you are sort of safe! It reminds me a lot of Sevilla, my hometown. And finally I have got my original Spanish skin colour back (which is much browner than it was in The Netherlands, hahaha).

I have made a few trips since my last publication: I have been to a few natural parks in Utah, which are really amazing, I have never seen something like those before. In the picture above, you can see me in the Canyonlands. I have also been to Las Vegas, and that was great: that city is designed to absorb your money, even breathing costs money there, OMG! I won’t tell you details because, you know: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But I can tell you that it was super fun, much more than Salt Lake City, which is rather calm. I have also been to New York, and that city is a mess, chaos everywhere, totally different from Salt Lake City also.

View of Salt Lake Temple, church of the mormons

I have already got to know a few friends, but interestingly, none of them are Mormons… I guess it is easier that way, because our way of having fun is extremely different. I mean, it is not that we get rowdy every weekend, but at least, we can enjoy a beer after work on a Friday night. I am really getting the impression that Mormons are extremely nice people, but they don’t mix up with Gentile (as they call the non-Mormons): they have their own activities and ways of having fun. You can join them, of course, they are very open-minded, but if you do so, you need to be prepared: at some point, they are going to try to convince you to join their religion. That doesn’t bother me, I respect them a lot, but it can be a bit tiring at some points that they always bring up that topic. Personally, I am Catholic and I am always willing to talk about religion if you want, but there are so many interesting topics apart from that…

Well, that’s all for now. Looking forward to telling you more stories in the next entry! See you soon!


Alvaro’s project is about transporting gas away from a catalyst surface. His background is aerospace engineering, but he is now working in the group Physics of Fluids of the University of Twente.

Do you have a question for Álvaro? Please let him know in the comment section below.

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