Toxic algal blooms can now be detected up to two weeks before they become a serious health hazard, thanks to an early warning system developed through an Australian university-industry partnership. Continue reading Aussie kit detecting threat of toxic algal blooms
Each year we identify early-career scientists with a discovery and bring them to Melbourne for a communication boot camp. Here are some of their stories.
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Imagine printing your own room lighting, lasers, or solar cells from inks you buy at the local newsagent. Jacek Jasieniak and colleagues at CSIRO, the University of Melbourne and the University of Padua in Italy, have developed liquid inks based on quantum dots that can be used to print such devices and in the first demonstration of their technology have produced tiny lasers. Quantum dots are made of semiconductor material grown as nanometre-sized crystals, around a millionth of a millimetre in diameter. The laser colour they produce can be selectively tuned by varying their size.
High tech cling wraps that ‘sieve out’ carbon dioxide from waste gases can help save the world, says Melbourne University chemical engineer, Colin Scholes who developed the technology. The membranes can be fitted to existing chimneys where they capture CO2 for removal and storage. Not only are the new membranes efficient, they are also relatively cheap to produce. They are already being tested on brown coal power stations in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, Colin says. “We are hoping these membranes will cut emissions from power stations by up to 90 per cent.”
A team of Queensland researchers have discovered the genetics that underlies the one molecule that lobsters, prawns and other crustaceans use to make the complex coloured patterns appreciated by biologists and connoisseurs of seafood.
The work of Dr Nick Wade and colleagues will help with conservation and aquaculture, and may even lead to a new food colourant. The colour of seafood is directly linked to its acceptability as food. Highly coloured lobsters and prawns attract a premium price. And for the crustaceans themselves, it’s a matter of survival.
Kilometre-wide erosion gullies eating their way across Australia’s northern landscape are proving likely culprits as the main source of the sediments that are flushed into the Gulf of Carpentaria each year, possibly smothering prawn and barramundi breeding and rearing habitats.