The 2009 Wesley Cocker Award was presented to Kevin Guiry on 16 July. Kevin was selected for his paper 'Effect of 1-Deoxy-D-lactose upon the Crystallization of D-Lactose' and received a prize of €500. It was presented to him by Dr Nick Gathergood who is a former Chair of the SCI All-Ireland group.
The paper is concerned with the crystallisation of lactose, which is of great significance in a variety of different fields including the food and pharmaceutical sectors, both of which are of significant importance in the Irish context. The development of value-added science to routine materials is one very important strand for keeping and developing industry, and industry-related R&D, in both the food and pharmaceutical sectors in Ireland into the future.
Lactose exhibits a large number of different crystalline forms, as well as two inter-converting molecular forms, known as the a and (3 anomers. There has been substantial work on the many different crystalline forms of lactose, such as the a and (3 forms, as well as mixed a(3 forms and hydrates.
This paper investigates crystallisation of lactose from aqueous solution, in the presence of a designed additive molecule, which directs and controls the crystallisation process. Thus, the work demonstrates that it is possible to change the outcome of the crystalline process, leading to a form of lactose which is not normally observed in the conditions used.
The work shows that rationale design of tailor-made additives can be used for systems which appear simple yet suffer from a complexity in the solid state which cause problems with reproducibility in large-scale manufacturing. The use of an additive which is similar to lactose but without an anomeric carbon suggests that this approach can, in theory, be used to influence the crystallisation processes for a variety of other sugar and carbohydrate-based systems.
The work was undertaken solely by Kevin Guiry, under the supervision of Humphrey Moynihan and Simon Lawrence, University College Cork.