Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia
The global race to develop high efficiency, low cost solar energy is fierce. And Baohua Jia and her colleagues are front runners.
Conventional solar cells are efficient, but thick and expensive. Baohua and her colleagues imagine a future when solar cells are so thin and cheap that city skyscrapers will be powered by a coating on their glass. But at present such thin-film solar cells are not efficient enough for general use.
Using her knowledge of nanotechnology and optics, Baohua and her colleagues have already created thin-film solar cells that are more than 20 per cent more efficient than those of her competitors. They have already lodged two patents.
But Baohua thinks she can do better. And that will be the focus of the work assisted by her $25,000 L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowship.
Turning to mathematics to allow us to make smarter conservation decisions.
The diversity of life on Earth underpins the global economy. But we’re losing biodiversity at an unprecedented rate and human-induced climate change will threaten more species—up to 37 per cent of the plants and animals with which we share the world. Continue reading Can we save the tiger with mathematics?→
A sponge that filters hot air and captures carbon dioxide
We need better ways of capturing carbon dioxide emissions from power stations and industry. And we won’t be using hydrogen cars until we’ve developed practical ways of carrying enough hydrogen gas in the fuel tank. Deanna D’Alessandro’s understanding of basic chemistry has led her to create new, incredibly absorbent chemicals that could do both these jobs and much more.
It’s all to do with surface area. Working in California and in Sydney she has constructed crystals that are full of minute holes. One teaspoon of the most effective of her chemicals has the surface area of a rugby field. What’s more, the size and shape of the pores can be customised using light. So she believes she can create molecular sponges that will mop up carbon dioxide, hydrogen, or in theory almost any gas – and then release it on cue. Continue reading Mopping up gases→
The Australian National University, Canberra/The University of Melbourne
In the 1950s it seemed as if medical science was winning the fight against malaria with the help of the ‘wonder drug’ chloroquine. Over the past half century the drug has saved hundreds of millions of lives.
But now the parasite that causes malaria has fought back. Chloroquine-resistant malaria has become common in developing countries. Rowena Martin is working to understand what happened, and to develop new ways of treating malaria. Continue reading Fighting back against malaria→
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Most women in Australia who have breast cancer recover. But many then relapse years later.
Marie-Liesse Asselin-Labat wants to know why. If she can solve this mystery, her work will open up opportunities for new drugs and treatments. Her achievements to date suggest that she is well placed to succeed.
In 2006 she was part of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research team that received global attention for its discovery of breast stem cells – a significant step in understanding how breast cancer starts. Marie-Liesse built on this finding with a series of papers exploring how these cells develop and are influenced by oestrogen and other steroids. Continue reading How does breast cancer start?→
Since 1998, a public-private partnership between L’Oréal and UNESCO has promoted women in science. The L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science recognises outstanding women researchers who have contributed to scientific progress.