Fingerprinting rare earth elements from the air

01 Jul 2016

Vital to many modern technologies yet mined in few  places, the ‘rare earth elements’ are in fact not that rare – they are just difficult to find in concentrations that make them economic to mine. Researchers from Cambridge University and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are investigating whether the remarkable properties of these materials can be used to track them down from the air.

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Would you live in a city made of bone?

23 Jun 2016

The cities of today are built with concrete and steel – but some Cambridge researchers think that the cities of the future need to go back to nature if they are to support an ever-expanding population, while keeping carbon emissions under control.

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Squeezing out opal-like colours by the mile

03 Jun 2016

Researchers have devised a new method for stacking microscopic marbles into regular layers, producing intriguing materials which scatter light into intense colours, and which change colour when twisted or stretched.

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Soft solids and the science of cake

24 Feb 2016

Researchers hope that working out the behaviours of soft solids, which can act like either solids or liquids, may make for tastier cakes – and safer oil wells.

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Mirage maker

30 Oct 2015

Aditya Sadhanala wanders over to the wall, turns a pulley, and a wooden box about a metre squared swings up and away. Below it gleams an array of carefully positioned lasers, deflectors and sensors surrounding a piece of glass no bigger than a contact lens. He flips a switch and creates a ‘mirage’.

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Detail of Kingfisher, woodblock printed in colour, Kitagawa Utamaro

Why does the kingfisher have blue feathers?

12 Aug 2015

The Cambridge Animal Alphabet series celebrates Cambridge's connections with animals through literature, art, science and society. Here, K is for Kingfisher. Look out for them among the swamp cypresses at the Botanic Garden, where the secrets behind their cyan and blue feathers are being studied by an extraordinary collaboration of scientists.

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A jet engine turbine blade.

From atoms to jet engines – extreme materials on display at summer exhibition

30 Jun 2015

At any one time over half a million people are flying far above our heads in modern aircraft. Their lives depend on the performance of the special metals used inside jet engines, where temperatures can reach over 2000˚C. Cambridge researchers will be exhibiting these remarkable materials at this year’s Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

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Health-conscious concrete

23 Mar 2015

Roads that self-repair, bridges filled with first-aid bubbles, buildings with arteries… not some futuristic fantasy but a very real possibility with ‘smart’ concrete.

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