UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE)


CLIE alumnus creates web app and writes educational paper on thin layer chromatography

30 October 2019

person using mobile phone

Runzhang Qi, a former UPCSE student who progressed to Engineering (Chemical) MEng at UCL in 2015, has developed a web app. 

As part of his studies, Runzhang participated in a research project UCL's Department of Chemical Engineering's Adaptive and Responsive Nanomaterials Group (AdReNa group), looking at using thin layer chromatography (TLC) to determine the concentration of an unknown sample. This work, headed up by Niamh Mac Fhionnlaoich and Stuart Ibsen, led Runzhang to create a web app based on the project's algorithm. After completion of the project in summer 2018, Runzhang was awarded a scholarship to study a PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Find out more about the project and how CLIE helped him prepare for his further education below.

Former CLIE Student: Runzhang Qi

Tell us a bit about your research project with the AdReNa group

"This project is to use thin layer chromatography (TLC) to quantitatively determine the concentration of an unknown sample. TLC is an old method invented long ago and is widely used in chemistry lab for qualitative analysis. For example, after doing column chromatography, it is quite often that TLC is employed to check the number of species that exist in each fraction.

The project involves the development of an algorithm that extracts information about concentrations using optical setup, or even mobile phone camera, by measuring the intensity of separated bands on a TLC plate. The paper not only presents the software that allows students to do quantitative analysis, which is an often overlooked aspect of TLC, but also provides suitable experiments for teaching".

What you have been doing since you studied at CLIE?

"I studied MEng chemical engineering at UCL. I did research mainly in AdReNa group led by Dr Stefan Guldin. I graduated with a first, top results in the cohort and was included in the Dean’s list. I then moved to Cambridge to do a PhD in chemistry under the supervision of Prof Tuomas Knowles, with Krishnan-Ang Studentship, Trinity-Henry Barlow Honorary Awards and Honorary Cambridge International Scholarship".

How do you feel your time at CLIE prepared you for the things you have gone on to achieve?

"I think my time at CLIE was very good preparation for my degree. The education system here in the UK is very different from the one in China. It filled the gap between my previous education and the university course, as some content was not covered in my high school in China. EAP was especially helpful. During undergraduate study, there is limited opportunity to learn academic writing in a systematic way".