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ANR/RGC Joint Research Scheme - Layman Summaries of Projects Funded in 2016/17 Exercise

Big Multi-objective Optimization

Hong Kong Principal Investigator: Prof Zhang Qingfu (City University of Hong Kong)
French Principal Investigator: Dr Derbel Bilel (University of Lille)

Many optimization problems in science and engineering fields are large-scale and heterogeneous, and have many conflicting objectives of different nature, many decision variables and multiple sources of uncertainty. It is very difficult for traditional optimization methods to deal with these BIG optimization problems. This proposal is to hybridize techniques and theory from evolutionary computation, machine learning, optimization, and use modern parallel platforms for developing efficient big multiobjective optimization solvers. We will adopt an evolutionary decomposition framework to decompose a multiobjective problem into a number of single-objective or simple multiobjective subproblems and then solve them in a collaborative manner. We will study how to use landscape analysis to identify major problem features that make a big multiobjective problem difficult, and investigate how to do configuration and adaption in the algorithmic framework. We will study how to use surrogate meta-models and how to distribute the computational resources in distributed computing environments. Different parallelism mechanisms will be studied in this project.

Polymer Nanostructures with Aggregation-Induced Emission Properties for Bioimaging and Theranostics

Hong Kong Principal Investigator: Prof Tang Ben Zhong (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
French Principal Investigator: Prof Li Min-Hui (The National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS))

Drug delivery systems (DDS) based on polymer nano-materials show reduced toxicity and better protection of molecules and provide drug release control in time and space. Polymer vesicles or polymersomes are particular interesting as they show high stability and encapsulation ability. Also, their membrane properties can be finely adjusted using a variety of monomers to achieve opening in response to the presence of stimulus. However, up to now, only a few nanoparticles for bioimaging and nano-DDS based on polymers reach the commercial level. Several challenges such as how to image efficiently cells/tissues and track the distribution of nano-DDS, how to enhance the imaging and treatment efficacy by targeting, how to achieve controlled release of drugs, etc., still remain in these research areas. Fluorescent polymer nanoparticles studied for bioimaging contain generally conventional organic dyes which show weak emission in the solid state. Recently, molecules with aggregation-induced emission characteristics (AIE) have emerged as a new class of fluorescent materials for organelle imaging and drug delivery monitoring. The combination of AIE molecules with polymer nano-materials will provide innovative approaches to cell/tissue imaging and to in vivo study of drug distribution. However, there are only a few systems reported to date that combine AIE properties and polymer nano-materials with well-controlled structures. Studies on AIE vesicles are just scarce. In this joint-research project, we together propose a rational design of AIE polymer nano-materials, especially AIE vesicles, and develop them as efficient systems for bioimaging and theranostics (combining diagnostics and therapy).

Impact of Air-Sea Exchanges on Air Quality in Coastal Megacities

Hong Kong Principal Investigator: Prof Wang Tao (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
French Principal Investigator: Dr George Christian (The National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS))

More than half of the world’s population lives in coastal areas, and three-quarters of all large cities are located on the coast. The impact of coastal megacities (city with a population of over 10 millions) on the environment is significant due to their rapid development, high population densities and large consumption of their residents, creating hot-spots of pollution as those encountered in South and East Asia like the Pearl River Delta region including Hong Kong.

This project aims to study the impact of air-sea exchanges as potential sources of traces gases lending to worsening air quality in heavily polluted megacities. We focus on interactions of urban air pollution and marine boundary layer surface chemistry simultaneously, which should reveal important physical and chemical processes not yet taken into account in previous research. In the frame of this joint ANR-RGC project, we propose to explore these processes by means of laboratory based investigations, dedicated field experimentations in Hong Kong, and modeling efforts. Specifically, we will investigate (1) production of organic gases and particles at sea surface impacted by urban pollution, (2) atmospheric chemistry of halogen-NOx-VOC and its impact on radical budget and formation of secondary chemicals, and (3) the interplay of sea-air exchange chemicals and sea-land breeze circulation and its impact the air quality (ozone and particulate matter) in coastal megacities. This project will produce new knowledge of chemical reactions/sources for trace gases at sea surface and in the overlaying atmosphere and will improve the ability in prediction and improvement of air quality for world’s megacities.