Author: Laurie

Self-healing superhydrophobic coatings

Long-term water-repellent metal surfaces may be one step closer Photo credit: UCL MAPS / O. Usher Superhydrophobic coatings have found widespread application in the maritime sector – from protecting ship hulls from ice and corrosion, to reducing friction, or keeping windscreens clear. But because these coatings owe their water-repellency to micro- or nanoscale...


Ultimate carrot cake recipe

Five years after sharing my first cake recipe on here, I thought it was time to share another! I hope you enjoy it. I love a good carrot cake, but I’ve always struggled to find the perfect recipe. But just a few weeks ago, I think I finally cracked it, so I thought I’d share it with you lovely people. The cake recipe is based on this one, but...


Forbes..... the long-overdue update

Hi peeps, Hope you’re all well? It’s been AGES since I did a proper update here on the blog. Myself and RJ are just about to head Europe-ward (for a very exciting reason), so I’m hoping to make time to do that on one on the many long-haul flight we’ll be taking! With only a few days until we fly, my life is a mess of packing &...


Triboelectric kill switch for secure flash memory

Could the touch of a finger make mobile data storage more secure? The agent was in trouble. She couldn’t let the files fall into enemy hands, but her capture seemed inevitable. And then, she remembered the kill switch. Pulling off a glove as she ran, she reached into her pocket and found the tiny pad on the surface of the flash memory drive. With that simple...


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...