The gift of a high-tech German neutron beam instrument is set to help Australian
researchers develop new antibiotics, understand smart polymer coatings and
create more efficient solar cells.
The Spatz neutron reflectometer uses a beam of neutrons
generated in the Open Pool Australian Lightwater (OPAL) reactor in Sydney to reveal
the structure of surfaces and interfaces such as cell membranes and
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.
Japanese researchers are coming to Australia for our neutron beams. It’s helping them continue their research following the shutdown of all Japanese research reactors in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. And it cements a friendship in beamline science that kickstarted Australian access to synchrotron light.
“Japan’s leadership in electronics, advanced manufacturing and computing complements Australia’s leadership in agriculture, health and minerals,” says the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s (ANSTO) Robert Robinson, who chaired an Australia Japan Neutron Science Workshop in 2013. The collaboration is contributing to research into: hard magnets for electric cars; new high density plastics; superconducting cables for the ITER fusion reactor; and the structure of a range of biological molecules.
Working together, researchers in Japan and Australia are getting better at predicting the areas most at risk from earthquakes.
They are also working together on ways to determine, within seconds of a warning, the scale and likely impact of an earthquake. Rapid detection and warning systems combined with smart engineering saved many lives in the Great Japanese Earthquake of 2011. But the earthquake and the resulting tsunami were much bigger than geological modelling suggested. The reasons for that might be found in deep history.
Mapping the hazard
Big earthquakes may be separated by centuries or millennia. But earthquake hazard maps are based on information gathered since 1900 when modern seismographs came into use. It’s difficult to model events happening over millennia when you have not got deep historical information. Continue reading Reducing the impact of earthquakes→