Its Just Science!

Counting gamma rays with perovskites

Amesite, perovskite – Image from Wikimedia Commons – Géry PARENT Los Alamos team demonstrate the working principle for a new gamma-ray detector Since their discovery at the turn of the 20th century, gamma rays have been used to probe everything from distant stars to cancerous tumours. Gamma-ray spectroscopy in particular, has become a critical...


Knitting the future of supercapacitors

US researchers fabricate 3D knitted textiles that store energy Do you know your half gauge from your interlock? Or can you tell the difference between jersey and knit? If not, it may be time to learn, because a new paper from researchers at Drexel University suggests that knitting could be the future of energy storage. Writing in Materials Today [DOI:...


The NZ 'Inferior' campaign

355. That’s how many state secondary schools are in NZ. I know this because, over the course of far-too-many months, I led the campaign to get one copy of a specific book into every single one of those 355 schools. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll already know all about this, and you’ll know that in February 2020, we achieved our target...


2019: How was it for you?

If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know that each December, I put together a ‘review’ blog post of the previous 12 months. These posts act as a kind of personal highlights (and lowlights) reel. As such, they tend to be pretty self-indulgent, so please don’t read this year’s one if that sort of thing annoys you (it’d probably annoy me too, to be...


A Sticky Situation

2.5 years ago, I sat down at my desk to write a blog post. In it, I told you, my lovely readers, that I’d signed a contract to write my second book – Sticky: The untold story of the forces that built civilisation. Reading the post back now, my excitement and disbelief are palpable! Since then, I’ve hardly mentioned it on the blog at all. That hasn’t been...


Image credit: VUW

MT Lab Profile: Dr Natalie Plank

I recently got to interview a friend and colleague, Dr Natalie Plank, for Materials Today. You can see it in its original form here: https://www.materialstoday.com/lab-profile-dr-natalie-plank\ Image credit: VUW Lab Name: Nanomaterials Devices Group Researcher: Dr Natalie Plank Location: Wellington, NZ Website:...


Super-speedy screening of nanotube devices

US researchers say that RF heating is ten times faster than two-point-probe measurements Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were first synthesised almost thirty years ago, in 1991. In the decade that followed, researchers established many of their properties, and took the first tentative steps towards integrating them into working electronic devices. The development of...


Origami inspires shape-shifting microelectronics

Dutch researchers have demonstrated self-folding, biocompatible 3D structures Thanks to the ancient Japanese art of origami, we all know that it’s possible to transform a single sheet of paper into a complex, three-dimensional structure, simply by folding it. So, its perhaps surprising that origami took so long to attract the attention of engineers. In recent...


Stretchable, multifunctional electronic skin for tactile sensing

Photo courtesy of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) Flexible sensor array mimics some of the tactile properties of human skin Picking up an object is not a simple process. It relies on a range of data inputs – visual clues help you to gauge the object’s size and shape, allowing you to adjust your grip. Your fingers can...


Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH)

Tuneable efficiency of direct growth graphene solar cells

Direct growth technique could produce low-cost, high-efficiency graphene-on-silicon Schottky junction solar cells 2018 was a record year for renewable energy, and predictions point to another big year in 2019. But with a rising demand for solar energy comes wider questions on the sustainability of our current photovoltaic devices. The search for alternative...