Light pulses that last just a billionth of a billionth of a second are allowing scientists to view the movement of electrons in detail for the first time. In the darkest month of the year, Horizon turns its gaze towards the science of light.
We discover how these rapid light pulses are helping scientists make ‘molecular movies’ of chemical reactions, and learn how Europe is leading the way in the use of extreme light, from the world’s brightest X-ray to one of the world’s most powerful lasers.
We investigate the new materials that are harnessing sunlight to clean our environment, from pollution-absorbing bus lanes to paint that purifies drinking water. Finally, we explore how new LED technology could not only dramatically cut Europe’s lighting bills but also influence the way we interact with our environment.
The world’s brightest pulses of light will reveal things that have never been seen before, according to Professor Wolfgang Sandner, director-general of the consortium building a facility known as the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI), which can produce lasers that are stronger than all the world’s power stations combined.
Ultra-short bursts of light are helping scientists see the movement of electrons in real time and opening up the possibility of controlling their activity, with potential applications that include super-fast computing and a window into the mechanics of chemical reactions.
The world looks very different from this time last year. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the centrality of science, research and innovation, accelerated some changes already in the works, but also exposed our weaknesses. In September, Horizon looks at how the pandemic is reshaping Europe in areas including health research, work, tech, transport and food – and how research can contribute to Europe’s recovery over the coming years. We will also be covering the European Research & Innovation Days at the end of the month, which will bring together scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs and citizens to debate how research and innovation can ensure that the transition to a post-coronavirus society is sustainable, inclusive and resilient.
In August, Horizon looks at one of the features that makes Earth unique and habitable: plate tectonics. We explore what we know – and still don’t know – about how the shifting plates beneath our feet shape our planet. We speak to researcher Dr Kate Rychert, who wants to understand what makes a plate plate-like, and delve into one of the outstanding mysteries in the subject – how and why plate tectonics began. We find out about the link between mountain formation, erosion and climate change, and we look at what moonquakes and marsquakes can reveal about tectonic activity elsewhere.
European governments need to provide investment on a ‘wartime footing’ to stimulate a post-coronavirus economic recovery, but also need to redefine economic success to incorporate climate and social goals, the European Research and Innovation Days conference has heard.
The Covid-19 crisis provides an opportunity to reshape Europe’s economy, conference heard.
'Frontier research' scientists share how they are fighting Covid-19.
Dr Kate Rychert studies ocean plate structures.