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Over the past months, a sudden influx of ‘Pokémon Go’ players could be observed across the globe. Youngsters, people of all ages scrutinise their surroundings silently, using their smartphones to catch those digital creatures with unlikely names. How could such a phenomenon take over the world so fast? Part of the answer may be the game’s strong interaction with the real-world and its impressive mapping, offering a whole new virtual experience of spaces that seem to be familiar and yet so different.
Stronger than steel, conducting electricity better than copper and heat better than diamonds: these are some of the promises held by carbon nanomaterials. Although not as well-known as graphene, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) show these properties – offering also a great advantage: they can be produced in larger quantities. Prof. Michael De Volder now explores new ways to manufacture CNTs-based devices with optimal features, potentially opening the way to their broader commercial use.
Is a precise answer always better than a slightly less detailed one? Not necessarily. Some problems could take forever to compute and tie up vast IT capacity. Where solutions are needed urgently, e.g. in business or manufacturing, near-enough can be more than enough. ERC-funded research has produced a library of fast, powerful approximation algorithms.
Solar power is potentially an almost limitless resource. The sun provides enough energy in one minute to supply the world’s energy needs for one year. But turning this resource into affordable electricity is difficult – silicon-based solar cells still suffer from a decline in their effectiveness over time. Through her ERC-funded SOLARX project, Professor Hele Savin, of Aalto University in Finland, is investigating a possible route to solving this problem.
Providing new directions in the field of security, Dr. Feng Hao’s project aims to devise a secure and publicly verifiable system of e-voting - a “self enforcing e-voting system” - which does not rely on vote-tallying authorities. Awarded an ERC Starting grant in 2013, Dr. Hao is based at Newcastle University (UK).
Vaccination has achieved huge success in controlling many devastating infectious diseases. However, there are still many such diseases, or ‘pathogens’, against which we cannot generate life-long protective immunity. On the eve of Croatia’s accession to the EU, Professor Stipan Jonjic’s ERC-funded research into new vaccines to offer better protection– is already underway. Prof Jonjic is the first Croatian ERC grantee to base his project in Croatia.
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.
A good and balanced diet is central to overall healthy living. However, diet-related diseases have increased in the last decades and became a major public health concern in most developed countries. Consumers’ information and responsiveness are therefore crucial when they purchase goods. On the occasion of the consumers’ rights week, Prof. Rachel Griffith, an ERC Advanced grantee 2009 based at the Institute of Fiscal Studies (UK), explains her research about consumer food purchasing behaviour, firm food pricing behaviour and their impact on nutrition.
Nanotechnology – making and manipulating structures with nanometre-scale dimensions – has the potential to transform many areas of science and engineering. Professor Molly Stevens of Imperial College is carrying out research into the areas where nanomaterials and biological systems converge.