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29-11-2019 | © picture 3 mins read

Luminescent leap forward: Maximising the efficiency of solar panels in bad weather

Inspired by the country’s cloudy weather, an Irish researcher has developed a new way to increase the efficiency of solar panels – even in the event of overcast skies. With a grant from the European Research Council (ERC), the disruptive technology has increased the viability of effective solar energy collection in northern Europe. The potential of this innovation could be huge given Europe’s growing demand for cost-effective and sustainable energy solutions.

30-04-2019 | Portrait: © 2018 Camilla Colombo; Image: artistic representation of objects in Low Earth Orbit © ESA 2 mins read

Making space a safer place for satellites and spacecraft

Space has a wealth of resources for humanity. Scientific missions enable new discoveries and increase knowledge of our solar system. Satellites orbiting around the Earth provide us with a broad range of services for telecommunications, weather forecasting, marine and air traffic, forest mapping, etc. However, intense space activity comes at a cost both in terms of energy consumption and dangerous space debris produced.

11-07-2018 | ©istockphotos 2 mins read

Mimicking nature to create new super materials

Nature is a major source of inspiration for scientists. ERC grantee Giulia Lanzara is one of them. The unique sensing and shaping abilities of birds, dolphins and other living creatures inspired her to engineer novel multifunctional materials which could make a difference in a wide variety of industrial fields.

18-04-2018 | Portrait:© University of Trento Image: Limpet teeth © Courtesy of A. Barber, University of Portsmouth and N. Pugno, University of Trento 2 mins read

Inspired by nature: bionic spider webs and other super-materials

Metal fatigue and ice-layer accumulation are challenges faced by the aviation industry and prove costly in terms of fuel waste. Sometimes nature can provide solutions to problems such as these. ERC grantee Nicola Pugno combines biological observations with nanotechnology to create some of the most remarkable materials in the world.

31-03-2017 | © picture 2 mins read

Two-dimensional materials for a multi-dimensional future

Prof. Nicolosi received a BSc with honors in Chemistry from the University of Catania, Italy, and Ph.D. in Physics from Trinity College Dublin. Today she is Professor of Nanomaterials & Advanced Microscopy at the School of Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin, and principal investigator at the Centers for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) and for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering (AMBER). Her interdisciplinary research focuses on low-dimensional nanomaterials, including graphene. She received three top-up ERC Proof of Concept grants to commercialize her findings.

Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."

02-05-2016 | © Alice Bellagamba 2 mins read

The past and present of slavery: a history in the making

Slavery represents a dark and unclosed page in the history of mankind. Even if legally abolished by all countries of the world, its legacies shape the present in a plurality of ways and often overlap with the phenomena that scholars, activists and policy-makers target as new slaveries. Which are the consequences of slavery after its legal death? Should new forms of labor exploitation and human bondage also be read in this key? Or are they the result of recent economic, political and social transformations?

12-06-2015 | Portrait: © András Málnási-Csizmadia | Image: Illustration of Molecular Tattoo © András Málnási-Csizmadia’s lab 2 mins read

Molecular tattooing for local, targeted drug-delivery

Dr Málnási-Csizmadia focuses on enzymes, proteins essential for body functions, and the largely unexplored intricate mechanisms underlying their activity. His recent findings could open the way to a ground-breaking development in pharmacology, especially in targeted cancer therapy.

28-04-2015 | courtesy of Debra F. Laefer 4 mins read

Engineering safer cities

How can we guarantee the integrity of existing buildings while continuing to develop urban spaces? Professor Debra Laefer's ERC-funded project tackles fundamental problems at the interface between new engineering undertakings and building conservation. The research team will draw on a largely unmined data source to create a system to predict the degree of damage likely to be sustained by buildings as a result of tunnelling.

28-11-2014 | © Portrait: Courtesy J Coleman 3 mins read

Opening a gateway to industrial solutions

At Trinity College Dublin Professor Jonathan Coleman and his team are creating a ‘gateway technology’ in material science that, if successful, will open the door to a host of industrial applications. Their research focuses on producing two-dimensional monolayers of a variety of materials by exfoliation. Prof. Coleman's TEDx talk will introduce the audience to this technology and demonstrate how to make the 'wonder material' graphene in a kitchen blender.

16-05-2013 | © picture 3 mins read

Unbreakable materials on the horizon

Since Leonardo da Vinci, scientists and engineers have investigated how things break or irreversibly deform, with a view to discovering unbreakable materials. This issue is at the core of Stefano Zapperi’s research. In 2011, he received an ERC Advanced grant to explore the response of materials when they are exposed to an external driving force. The long-term outcomes of his research could contribute to enhancing the safety of materials and daily products.