Articles tagged as: Qatar

December 10, 2014

Researchers Build Tractor Beam That Moves Particles Using Light


Optical trapping and manipulation of light-absorbing particles. The particle is visible as bright spot localized in the focal area of the singular beam.

Laser physicist Dr. Wieslaw Krolikowski, a professor in the Science Program at Texas A&M at Qatar, and his research team in Qatar and at Australian National University (ANU) have moved small glass spheres with a laser beam — much like a tractor beam sci-fi fans have become accustomed to seeing on movie and television screens. The work is published in Nature Photonics.

The team covered small glass spheres, about 50 micrometers in diameter, with a thin gold coating to absorb light. A coated sphere was then placed in a special hollow-beam laser in which a circle of light surrounds a dark center. The sphere sat in the dark center of the beam. Interaction with the light edges of the beam causes the sphere to absorb energy from the laser beam through the special, thin gold layer coating the sphere, raising the temperature and changing the air pressure surrounding the sphere.  This change in temperature pushes the sphere either toward or away from the laser.

“When we produced light to heat the backside of the sphere,” Krolikowski said, “the higher air pressure at the back of the sphere pushed it towards the light. The opposite occurred when we heated the front of the sphere.” 

This tractor-beam effect had previously only been observed on the microscopic level using plastic beads that only moved a few nanometers, Krolikowski said. But the Texas A&M at Qatar—ANU research team has managed to move particles up to 20 centimeters.

 Krolikowski said that this success has potential in the real world, not just Hollywood. In medicine, doctors can use x-ray analysis of viruses and biological specimens. This requires delivering a particle to a very specific spatial location where the laser light will be focused. 

Another possible application is to use this tractor beam to capture and move particles produced in an experimental chamber into a special area for analysis. 

“Nanotechnology is a big deal these days,” Krolikowski said, “but very often many of these nanoparticles are produced from carcinogenic materials such as arsenic, so we don’t want to touch it. So light could provide the ability to manipulate particles into a specific location for analysis.”

Krolikowski joined the Texas A&M at Qatar faculty in January 2014 and is an expert in nonlinear optics, having worked in the field for more than 30 years. His area of research is in shaping a light beam so that it deposits energy in small, precise locations. He is in the process of setting up his new laser laboratory in the Texas A&M Engineering Building on the Education City campus.


Nehal MaherTexas A&M University at Qatar



December 10, 2014

Qatari Female Graduate Student Receives Award

Qatar building

Texas A&M University at Qatar

Texas A&M University at Qatar graduate student Dhabia Al-Mohannadi has been awarded the second prize in energy and environment theme at the Annual Research Conference 2014 Students Poster Presentation Awards.

Al-Mohannadi is a graduate student in chemical engineering and is supported by the Qatar Science Leadership Program (QSLP). Her research focuses on the development of a novel approach to systematically manage carbon dioxide emissions in industrial parks. She performed her research under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Linke, professor and chair of the Chemical Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar.

“The Annual Research Conference 2014 (ARC’14) is a great platform to showcase our research to a wider audience and it’s a great honor to be recognized amongst this community. It’s really encouraging for students to be given such opportunities to participate in the knowledge exchange process and help spread research culture in Qatar.” said Al Mohannadi.

Al Mohannadi’s research is concerned with developing low cost carbon reduction strategies for industrial parks. Carbon dioxide emissions are concentrated in such parks as over 75% of total carbon dioxide emissions in Qatar originate from the oil and gas as well as the power and water sectors. The approach can consider the diverse emission sources together with a multitude of carbon utilization and sequestration options that may be applied to cut emissions.  Carbon dioxide could be converted to fuels, chemicals or food for example, or it may be used in traditional reduction routes like application of carbon capture and storage. The developed optimization approach allows the identification of the most economic strategy to reduce carbon footprints from the many options that may be available. The research serves perfectly under the Qatar National Vision 2030 economic and environmental development pillars as it looks in product diversity and manages the environmental impact. Even though Qatar has not adopted a specific carbon reduction targets, it showed great initiative towards the goal of managing CO2-footprints by signing the Kyoto protocol and by hosting COP-18 in 2012 . Carbon dioxide emission reductions are also aimed for in the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011 to 2016.

“I believe that our research will be very beneficial to policy makers and industry should Qatar be faced with the need to significantly reduce CO2-emissions in future. We will continue to work together to develop this topic further,” Dr. Linke said. “Al Mohannadi has been working very hard over the past two years to make this pioneering effort happen. She is the first student who contributes to the very early stages of this new field, which is highly relevant not only to the country but to the world at large. This is also a success of the Qatar Science Leadership Program. Their support of Dhabia has been instrumental to this very successful research.”

Contact: Nehal Maher, Texas A&M University at Qatar, at or +974.4423.0540, +974.5542.8289


October 29, 2014

Texas A&M University at Qatar research could lead to safer, greener wells


Dr. Mahmood Amani

A research project led by a Texas A&M University at Qatar petroleum engineering faculty member could lead to safer, more environmentally friendly wells for the oil and gas industry.

Dr. Mahmood Amani, associate professor in the Petroleum Engineering Program, says that a new testing procedure he and his colleagues developed could help the petroleum industry ensure the safety of their wells and to make sure the wells don’t leak chemicals into groundwater.

Funded by a Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), the researchers investigated the integrity of concrete used in wells when subjected to cyclic loadings — repeated cycles of high temperatures or pressures.

When a new well is drilled, it must be drilled through thousands of feet of rock and dirt. A steel pipe called a casing goes into the well to keep the well open so it doesn’t collapse. But there’s a gap between the outside of the casing and the rock and dirt surrounding the pipe. This gap must be cemented completely to fill so that there are no cracks, voids or other channels in the rock.

“We want the oil or gas to come up through the casing, not the gap,” Amani says, “because we can control the fluids coming up through the pipe. If the oil or gas comes up through the gap between the rock and casing, then we lose some of those resources that we’re trying to get out. It can also cause corrosion behind the pipe or, if it travels up to the surface, it can cause a fire or a blowout, which could lead to loss of life or property, or environmental damage.”

Amani says another concern is the oil or gas traveling up through the gap and making its way into groundwater. This is a big worry to environmentalists concerned about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which oil or gas is recovered from shale and other rock and sand formations.

Shale is a type of very tight rock. The oil and gas are trapped in this tight rock and doesn’t flow freely. With hydraulic fracturing high-pressure water containing chemical polymers is pumped into a well. This fluid causes fractures in the rock, forcing the oil or gas into the well.

Amani wanted to know, What if pumping high-pressure fluids into the well causes cracks in the cement? Fluctuations in temperature and pressure in the well could cause the metal casing to shrink or expand, causing minor fractures in the cement or even cause the cement to separate from the casing. Repeating the cycle many times over through the life of the well can worsen the damage and cause the cracks to propagate.

His research team designed special cells in which to test cement using a high-temperature, high-pressure viscometer for drilling fluids. These cement cells were bonded to steel, the type of metal that would be used as a well casing. The cement and steel were subjected to pressures and temperatures in a variety of scenarios, and then the cycles were repeated. The team observed when — after how many cycles — did the cracks initiate and then propagate.

The result of the experiments is a new testing procedure to ensure the safety of the wells and that groundwater would not be contaminated. The team has filed a patent disclosure on the process and it’s now under review. 

“There’s no test now for integrity of cement and its bond to casing under these cyclic loadings subjected to high temperatures and pressures,” Amani said. “If we can make sure the cement we use in our wells could withstand these conditions, or even be self-healing with the right additives, then we can use the right recipe for applications in oil wells.

“This would assure the public that the water and the wells are safe, and oil companies and environmental protection agencies can adopt this as an additional testing procedure.

Amani has a long record of research success at Texas A&M at Qatar, having received five QNRF NPRP awards. He’s also shepherded 38 undergraduates through eight QNRF Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) projects, even garnering recognition for two: In 2013 one of his UREPs was singled out as the best of the 88 projects completed in the previous year — a first for any Texas A&M at Qatar UREP — and in 2014 another project won third place (first among engineering projects) of the 87 total projects that were completed in 2013.

Amani says he particularly enjoys working with undergraduate researchers.

“The students that have worked on these projects have learned so much, from designing and conducting an experiment, to writing reports and presentations,” Amani says. “I take a lot of pride in my UREP activities because my number-one responsibility is to be a good educator for our students. Good teaching is the most important contribution, and undergraduate research complements this education because the students apply what they’ve learned in class and then go one step further.”


Nehal Maher, Texas A&M University at Qatar, at


+974.4423.0540   +974.5542.8289


October 28, 2014

Texas A&M University at Qatar receives cutaway Rolls Royce Avon industrial gas turbine

Texas A&M University at Qatar recognized close partner, Qatar Fertiliser Company (QAFCO), on 27 October for its donation of a cutaway gas turbine. The turbine has been designed for teaching purposes and will benefit engineering students with hands-on learning of turbine technology. The turbine is located in Texas A&M at Qatar’s research atrium and can be seen by students, employees and visitors.

“QAFCO offers tremendous support to Texas A&M at Qatar’s students and programs, and we are grateful for yet another notable contribution,” said Dr. Mark H. Weichold, Texas A&M at Qatar dean and CEO.

He continued, “QAFCO has been a longtime supporter of Texas A&M at Qatar and, like us, QAFCO recognizes the importance of hands-on learning as essential to a well-rounded education. We thank them today for the donation of the Rolls Royce Avon industrial gas turbine. This engine will give students first-hand experience with turbine technology and help them prepare for industry’s needs once they graduate. QAFCO custom prepared the engine for Texas A&M at Qatar, and we are incredibly grateful for this donation of an engine not frequently seen in university environments. We appreciate this unique opportunity QAFCO is providing our students.”

In addition to its on-of-a-kind turbine donation, QAFCO announced at the recognition event that it will sponsor 10 students from Texas A&M at Qatar to receive theoretical and practical training at the Turbine Services and Solutions workshop in Abu Dhabi, which is licensed by Rolls Royce to carry out complete overhauls for such engines QAFCO will also arrange to conduct an in-house training for twenty students on gas turbine technologies.

“Today it gives me great pleasure to present the QAFCO turbine to Texas A&M at Qatar as a token of our appreciation for the relationship with the branch campus. As part of QAFCO’s commitment to Qatar National Vision 2030 and as essential part of our corporate responsibility, QAFCO continues to focus on preparing our people for the future. Our people are our greatest asset. Training and professional development of young Qatari people are one of our key concerns,” Mr. Khalifa Al-Sowaidi, QAFCO vice chairman and CEO said.

“With this turbine we intend to give engineering students a first-hand experience of one of the most renowned and admired turbines produced by Rolls-Royce. The Rolls Royce Avon Gas turbine has become one of the most successful gas turbine engines with applications in military and civilian aircrafts, as well as in industrial applications,” he said.

The provision of the turbine to Texas A&M at Qatar primarily aims to provide engineering students with the highest quality training to balance the theoretical principles they learn in the classroom, make them productive engineers, maintain a high standard of professionalism, and have the vision to solve problems of today and the future.

This donation will be a continuation of QAFCO’s longterm support and efforts to open more communication channels with students at Texas A&M at Qatar, giving them a better understanding of their processes. This will help Qatar’s new generation of engineering leaders prepare for various industry roles as they take on new careers.

The Rolls-Royce Avon gas turbine was the first axial flow jet engine produced by Rolls-Royce and is one of the most successful gas turbine engines. It is used in a wide variety of aircraft, both military and civilian, as well as an industrial version. The turbine is used principally in the oil and gas industry to drive pumps and gas compressors with a smaller number used for electrical power generation and within the process industry. It was introduced to Qatar in QAFCO 1 in 1972. QAFCO achieved a world record for continuous operation, which still stands today, operating an Avon non-stop for 476 days (11,424 hours).

Nehal Maher Texas A&M University at Qatar



May 28, 2014

Texas A&M at Qatar Receives $31.7 Million in Research Awards

Texas A&M at Qatar has been awarded Exceptional Proposal recognition by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) at QNRF sixth annual Research Forum.

Texas A&M at Qatar received 38 awards out of 118 proposals submitted — a 32 percent success rate — totaling $31.7 million in research funding.

Dr. Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO of Texas A&M at Qatar, said, “It is fundamental to Texas A&M at Qatar’s mission to lead efforts that build research capacity in Qatar and contribute to Qatar’s goal of becoming a knowledge-based economy. Our success in this recent NPRP cycle of awards supports our mission to be a valued resource to the State of Qatar. I am tremendously proud that our faculty compete so well on a global scale and do so much to foster collaboration with experts in Qatar and around the world.”

Dr. Kenneth Hall, associate dean of research and graduate studies, said, “This significant funding from the QNRF NPRP program allows our faculty members and researchers to continue their relevant, real-world research for the benefit of Qatar. Fundamental research leads to technological and economic development, and our researchers have a proven record of garnering the funding and results needed to drive change. We are delighted and pleased with these awards, and we are deeply grateful to QNRF.”

In addition to this remarkable achievement, the team led by Texas A&M at Qatar’s Dr. Milivoj Belic, a physics professor in the Science Program, and his research team were named the outstanding research team.

Belic’s team research focuses on photonics, the science of harnessing light. Photonics plays a major role in driving economic growth and employment throughout the world, while solving important societal challenges in information and consumer technologies, renewable energy, health, manufacturing and security. The support of essential fundamental and applied research in photonics will place Qatar in a leading position globally in this high-impact, multidisciplinary field, Belic said.

Belic said, “In terms of outcomes, the team has been highly successful. We generated about 100 papers published in highly reputed, peer-reviewed journals in physics, such as Physical Review A&E, Optics Letters, Optics Express and Laser Photonics Reviews. In three years since publication, these papers have attracted a few hundred citations and the number is rapidly rising. Based on the fact that many of these papers have already been cited more than dozen times, it is clear that they will produce a considerable impact on the field of photonics — in particular on the formation of light bullets in media with varying nonlinearity, Anderson localization of light in optical lattices and the nonlinear Talbot effect of optical rogue waves, among other.”

Contact: Nehal Maher, Texas A&M University at Qatar,, +974.4423.0540, +974.5542.8289


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