Making motorcycle clothing safer

Most motorcycle clothing is not as protective as you might think. But from next year it will be easier to identify the safest gloves and garments thanks to a rating system developed by Deakin University researchers.

Keen biker Dr Chris Hurren and his colleague Dr Liz de Rome, of the university’s Institute for Frontier Materials, tested fabrics used in biker clothing— such as denim and synthetic protective liners—to measure breathability and durability. More than 60 per cent performed poorly. Continue reading Making motorcycle clothing safer

The right juice for your heart

Beetroot juice and exercise are being investigated as a treatment for cardiovascular problems. And understanding the workings of the combination could lead to other, more sophisticated therapies.

That’s the hope of Professor Jason Allen and his PhD student Mary Woessner from the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victoria University in western Melbourne. Continue reading The right juice for your heart

Mobile games are for paws, too

It turns out that Aussie pets love playing mobile games and watching TV,  just as we do.

In a three-year study of mobile gaming and digital media in Australian households, researchers were surprised to find animals frequently joining in on the fun with technology.

“We have observed cats playing with iPads and keyboards, dogs watching television or participating in Skype calls,” says Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth, Director of the Enabling Capability Platform for Design and Creative Practice at RMIT.

She co-leads the research with Associate Professor Ingrid Richardson from Murdoch University. Continue reading Mobile games are for paws, too

Teaching search engines to know what you need

Information scientists are figuring out how to make search engines better at listening, so they can give us search results before we even ask.

Quizzing Siri or Alexa on the weather forecast or latest football results is common these days. But if we’re going to have fluent and intuitive conversations with future search engines, they will need to be built differently.

This challenge has captivated Professor Mark Sanderson, Director of the Enabling Capability Platform for Information and Systems (Engineering), and his team at RMIT University. Continue reading Teaching search engines to know what you need

Sharpening vision in bionic eyes

A PhD student at The University of Melbourne has discovered a technique that can improve the resolution of bionic eyes for people who suffer from retinal conditions such age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

“Implants are really limited in how much resolution they can provide. I’m trying to improve that,” says Kerry Halupka, who works with the Bionics Institute. Continue reading Sharpening vision in bionic eyes

Improving carbon fibre production

Making higher quality carbon fibre will be easier thanks to infrared analysis being used at the Australian Synchrotron.

The tough fibre, which is 10 times stronger and five times lighter than steel, is made by heating a synthetic product called polyacrylonitrile (PAN) in temperatures up to 600°C.

Some aircraft, high performance cars and the new electric BMW i3 are partly made with it. But slow and costly manufacturing methods currently deter the mass use of carbon fibre in automotive and aeronautical industries.

Continue reading Improving carbon fibre production

When boron nitride outshines gold and silver

Ultra-thin boron nitride outshines gold and silver when used to detect contaminants in smart sensing technology. 

It is 100 times more effective at detecting dangerous materials in our food and environment than noble metals.

Traditionally, detection surfaces of these devices have been made using gold and silver. But covering these metals with a microscopically thin layer of boron nitride greatly enhances their performance.

The findings are by a team from Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials, Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science and China’s Wenzhou University. Continue reading When boron nitride outshines gold and silver

Touch of silk to repair ruptured eardrums

A transparent, silk-derived implant that looks like a contact lens and can fix damaged eardrums is giving hope to millions who suffer from recurrent ear infections.

Creators of the device—from the Australian Research Council’s Future Fibres Research Hub and the Perth-based —secured funding to start human clinical trials with it in Australia in 2018.

The implant, called ClearDrum, is made from silk protein that forms a see-through scaffold on which cells can grow to close eardrum perforations. Continue reading Touch of silk to repair ruptured eardrums