Teeny tiny transistors

Back in May, a research team spread across the United States and Taiwan made a stunning announcement: they’d mastered the fabrication of transistors with elements just one nanometre in size. Inhabiting the macroscale of centimetres and metres and kilometres, we find it difficult to visualise anything so small. The width of the very finest human … Continue reading Teeny tiny transistors

Building (glass) bridges

When we consider glass, we often think of its fragility – so the idea of walking across glass bridges is, for many of us, just a little scary. After all, a bridge in China’s Jilin province recently shattered due to high winds, leaving a tourist uncomfortably stranded 100 metres above the ground. Regardless, glass is … Continue reading Building (glass) bridges

Path to zero emissions: the future of transport

To describe how I think transport will look in the future I need to set the scene. My Quarterly Essay, “Getting to Zero”, and the Australian Government’s Low Emissions Technology Roadmap, share the same philosophy on the role of technology. We recognise that there are incumbent technologies that are high emission and low cost, and there are … Continue reading Path to zero emissions: the future of transport

Are those earmuffs, or beermuffs?

Japanese researchers have developed a pair of earmuffs that can measure real-time changes in your blood alcohol concentration. Turns out our ears give off as much alcohol as our breath, so the earmuffs could be an alternative to a breathalyser. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, was led by Kohji Mitsubayashi from the … Continue reading Are those earmuffs, or beermuffs?

Breaking bad (and sometimes good)

Nothing counts except for your thirst, and you’re cracking open a cold can of cola to deal with the problem when… arrrrrgggggh – the little opening key breaks off. So annoying. But what if the thing that cracks or breaks isn’t as trivial as a drink can? What if it’s a hinge in an airlock … Continue reading Breaking bad (and sometimes good)

Converting CO2 into everyday materials

A team of researchers has developed an electrochemical system that can turn carbon dioxide into valuable carbon-based products like ethylene and ethanol – which can be used in a range of materials, from plastic to lycra. As the world continues to pump carbon into the atmosphere, it is increasingly important to not only cease emissions … Continue reading Converting CO2 into everyday materials

Making a “Hydrobot” out of water and magnets

With a tiny magnet, researchers have designed a simple system to make a little drop of water move around. To create a “Hydrobot”, the team – led by Yifan Si of the City University of Hong Kong – used a 1-mm-wide iron bead with an extremely hydrophilic (water-loving) surface. Because the surface strongly attracts water, … Continue reading Making a “Hydrobot” out of water and magnets

Wireless brain implant to make friends?

For the first time ever, scientists have used a wireless brain implant to make mice socialise with each other, according to a paper published in Nature Neuroscience. Developed by a team from Northwestern University, US, led by Yevgenia Kozorovitskiy and John A. Rogers, the implant uses the sci-fi-esque technique called optogenetics – using light to … Continue reading Wireless brain implant to make friends?

Welcome to my world: the real right stuff

Any time a plane flies, silently assisting with the craft’s lift and trim is the huge group of people that made sure it was safe. Engineers, obviously, are essential, but there needs to be somebody directing proceedings at the intersection between the work of engineers and the pilots who’ll eventually be in control of the … Continue reading Welcome to my world: the real right stuff

The road ahead for driverless cars in Australia

The phrase “driverless cars” likely conjures up images of sleek vehicles cruising city streets, ferrying passengers around as part of a futuristic ride-share system. But adjust your mental picture, because Australian researchers are currently trying to make sure these cars can also be driven on the dusty backroads of regional areas. For over a decade, … Continue reading The road ahead for driverless cars in Australia

Lithium: Powering the Green Revolution

by Richard A Lovett As the climate warms, sea levels rise and droughts, heatwaves and bushfires multiply, the need to usher in the green-energy future is increasingly urgent. But that doesn’t mean it can be done without significant challenges – not just in the economy (as it makes the changeover), but technologically and scientifically as … Continue reading Lithium: Powering the Green Revolution

Newton in the pilot’s seat

It takes a lot of thought and a lot of work to land a rover on Mars. It’s not as if you’re on Earth, where you can check things out, take a few samples and make necessary measurements directly. To get a lander like Perseverance down, scientists and engineers must take into account such things … Continue reading Newton in the pilot’s seat