Its Just Science!

Using sunlight to suck salt from seawater

Polymer foam offers potential route to practical solar desalination Freshwater scarcity is an urgent global issue. In some parts of the world, cities are growing increasingly reliant on seawater desalination plants. Ultimately, the goal of desalination is to take huge quantities of salt-laden seawater, and turn it into safe, drinking-quality water. Right now,...


3D printed nanogenerator powered by snow

Canadian researchers say that their device could find multiple uses in snowy environments Snow electrification – the natural phenomenon by which snow particles carry an electric charge – has been known by meteorologists since the early 1960s. The exact nature of the charge depends on temperature; snow layers tend to be positively charged between −5 °C...


Diffusion in metallic glass multilayer films

TEM used to explore atomic diffusion in glassy, metallic composites Metallic glasses have long been of interest to materials scientists and product designers alike. Sometimes referred to as ‘vitrified metals’, the properties of these alloys sit somewhere between those of crystalline metal and amorphous glass. Their disordered atomic structure give them...


Nanocomposite cathode for Li-ion batteries

One-pot method could overcome the limits of spinel-based electrodes Lithium ion-batteries (Li-ion) have become the battery of choice across a range of industries, and in consumer electronics like mobile phones, they have almost entirely replaced nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries. And it’s not all that surprising – as well as being...


Living glues, inspired by marine animals

Chinese researchers develop the world’s first ‘living biofilm’ adhesive with tuneable behaviour Image taken by Thomas Quine, and shared on Flickr The remarkable properties of natural marine adhesives, such as those used by mussels, have long been studied by researchers. Over millennia, these organisms have harnessed diverse proteins, so that they can grip...


Could tomorrow’s silk be self-cleaning and sun-proof?

Textile researchers have found a simple process for coating silk with ZnO Silk fibre being spun. Image taken from a YouTube video of Sara Lamb There’s nothing quite like the feeling of cool, smooth silk on your skin. It’s perhaps one reason why the luxury fabric has retained its popularity many thousands of years after it was first developed. It does have...


2018: The year that was!

As regular readers know, I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions because I think they just set people up to fail, and put a crazy amount of pressure on January. I am, however, a big fan of end-of-year reviews, where I take stock of what’s happened in the previous 12 months. Usually, my reviews are very career-heavy – unsurprising, given how crap I am...


Protecting planes from lightning strikes

Image by Griffinstorm [CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikipedia] Nickel-coated carbon fibres may be a better option than carbon mesh for composite aircraft Driven by the need to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency, over the past two decades, aircraft manufacturers have increasingly turned to carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFPRP) composites. The world’s largest...


Method to scale-up fabrication of 2D materials

Image owned by Weiwei Lei, Vadym N. Mochalin, Dan Liu, Si Qin, Yury Gogotsi & Ying Chen. Published in Nature, sourced from Wikipedia Could a new exfoliation method offer a practical route to large-scale production of nanosheets? Ever since graphene first made headlines in 2004, the search for alternative 2D materials has turned into a global research...


Can graphene help us avoid sunburn?

Image courtesy of Pixabay Australian researchers combine titanium dioxide and graphene to develop a novel, low-power sun sensor Sunlight is vital to human health. Without regular exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB), our bodies can struggle to make sufficient vitamin D to support the development of strong bones. But too much sunlight can cause sunburn, and if...