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.
Opinion: Harder than diamond: have scientists really found something tougher than nature’s invincible material?19 Jan 2016
Paul Coxon (Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy) discusses the materials that have each been heralded as the new “world’s hardest material”.
Simon Redfern (Department of Earth Sciences) discusses how the "Star of Adam" sapphire was formed in the highlands of Sri Lanka.