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Tag: c2014

Designing electrical components with mechanical softness in mind can move us closer to direct brain-machine communication. The ability to connect computer hardware with the human nervous system has long captured scientific interest, as well as the public imagination. While nowhere near exotic science-fiction constructs, as seen in movies like The Matrix or Total Recall, devices of impressive sophistication […]

Most colours we see, with the exception of coloured lights like neons or televisions, are produced by dyes: molecules and materials which absorb some colours and transmit others, and therefore are themselves coloured. For example, leaves appear green because chlorophyll, the molecule responsible for photosynthesis, absorbs red and blue light but not green. Birds show […]

DNA is nature’s hard-drive, able to store the information required to create all life. It exists in nature as a double helix, with two strands entwined and held together through Watson-Crick base pairing. The same properties which make DNA such an effective information storage medium also make it a convenient material for the construction of […]

There is a revolution in energy use underway. Coal fired power stations are shutting down across the western world, with wind and solar power stations replacing them. The internal combustion engine in cars is on the way out, with manufacturers investing heavily in electric cars. This presents a problem: how can we store energy so […]

Control over the 3-D structure of 2-D materials such as graphene helps us to engineer super-materials with properties not usually found in nature. Two dimensional materials such as graphene have measured as the strongest, stiffest and most conductive materials ever recorded. The ability to control the shape of these materials is essential when tailoring them […]

If you chop up a piece of semiconductor crystal into tiny pieces, it will develop some interesting properties. When you get to chunks of a few nanometres – 10,000 times thinner than a hair – they become nothing like the bulk material you started with. Optical and electronic behaviour dramatically change with size. Nano-sized semiconductor […]

Can we diagnose the deadly diseases years before they occur? Imagine you are fishing in a lake with only one fish… You would have to be very very lucky to be at the right place at the right time to catch it! Early stage disease diagnostics is a similar game: one has to catch a […]

Like us, many algae need vitamin B12. We get our vitamins from the food we eat or by taking vitamin supplements. But how do simple, single cell organisms like algae get the nutrients they need? Vitamins are essential for a healthy life, but the organisms that depend on them cannot produce them. Vitamin B12 is the […]

With lessons from nature, the sun’s energy can be used to create fuel from air, water and sunlight through artificial photosynthesis. The sun provides a huge amount of energy to us each day, but capturing it is not so straightforward. Solar cells can make electricity from the sun’s light but storing and transporting this energy […]

Robert Frost once said, “The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office”. But really, what if your brain does not start working even after the n-th cup of morning coffee or it just does not remember […]