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.
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.
Michelle Oyen (Department of Engineering) discusses how we could reduce our dependence on "dirty" materials like steel and concrete.
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’.
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.
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.
The Periodic Table may not sound like a list of ingredients but, for a group of materials scientists, it’s the starting point for designing the perfect chemical make-up of tomorrow’s jet engines.