Author: Laurie

Improving the properties of Kevlar reinforced composites

Could extra-long carbon nanotubes give us stronger Kevlar bullet-proof vests? By National Photo Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Discovered by DuPont™ chemist Stephanie Kwolek in 1964, Kevlar® is one of the world’s most famous fibres. Found in everything from parachutes and skis, to tyres and bullet-proof vests, it combines low weight with...


Materials Down Under

Since January, I’ve been working on a new column at Materials Today. Called ‘Materials Down Under’, it features some of the brightest and best materials science talent here in the Antipodes. So far, it features just four researchers, but I have a long wishlist of other people I hope to interview. You’ll find all of them here:...


'Sea-snake' triboelectric generator could harvest ocean wave energy

By Shalom Jacobovitz (SJ1_8558) [CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons] Revisiting an old technology to capture energy from the rolling sea Back in 2004, the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter became the world’s first offshore wave machine to successfully generate electricity and deliver it to the grid. Unlike many other wave energy harvesters, the Pelamis...


De-icing aircraft with a carbon nanotube web

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons If you’ve ever had a flight delayed by a snow-covered runway, you’ll know that cold weather can be the enemy of air travel. But far from the ground, ice has even more serious implications. As an aircraft flies through clouds at sub-zero temperatures, super-cooled water droplets can form layers of ice on aerodynamic surfaces...


Turning sunlight into steam, thanks to graphene

Could a graphene aerogel get us a step close to efficient, solar-powered wastewater treatment? All over the world, solar photovoltaics are being used to transform sunlight into electricity. But, visible light isn’t the only energy source our sun offers. Solar thermal systems, widely used in cities such as Sao Paulo, make use of the sun’s heat. Dark panels...


New Zealand: Land of rockets, not hobbits

Image credit; Rocket Lab The Māhia Peninsula has been a haven for New Zealand holiday-goers for decades. Located on the east coast of the country’s North Island, the headland offers sandy beaches, natural hot springs, and scenic walking trails. Oh, and the world’s first privately-owned orbital launch site. Māhia is the home of Rocket Lab – a US...


75 Twitter women in STEM you should be following

Thursday 8th March was International Women’s Day 2018, #iwd2018. As has now become tradition, I gave up a day’s pay to tweet about awesome women, but this year, I put a bit of a twist on it. For a start, I actually did some preparation, so that I could pace out the day, and schedule in breaks. Secondly, I realised that I follow A LOT of incredible...


Harvesting energy from a handshake

Hybrid energy harvester from Kwangwoon University shows promise as a wearable charger for portable electronic devices How many electronic devices do you carry with you on a typical day? Between laptops, mobile phones and smart watches, there is an ever-growing need for reliable, portable power sources. Battery packs can provide that functionality, but they too...


Conductive textile for flexible lithium batteries

The development of a new lithium-ion conducting ceramic textile could get us a step closer to practical solid-state lithium metal batteries Lithium-ion batteries are found in everything from laptops and power tools, to electric cars and Mars rovers. They are relatively inexpensive, can be easily recharged, and operate well at low and ambient temperatures. But...


#InternationalDayofWomenandGirlsinScience

11 February is the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science (which has an inexplicably long official hashtag), so I did a bit of tweeting to mark the day – you can see the results of my efforts in this Twitter Moment: https://twitter.com/i/moments/962779916814008320 Amongst the women featured in the thread were three NPL scientists that I...