You may not have heard of scandium and yttrium, but rare earth elements like these are all around us – in our homes, at work and even in our pockets.
The problem is that they come almost exclusively from resource-hungry China, and if supplies start to dwindle our high-tech industries are at risk.
Horizon looks at the researchers who are trying to solve this, by making components that don’t need them, by developing ways to recycle them from electronic waste, and by investigating how to mine and process them here in Europe.
Political challenges rather than geological availability are what threatens the EU’s supply of raw materials, according to Dr Henrike Sievers from the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, who is working on a project to map all of Europe’s own mineral resources.
Magnets are at the heart of our love affair with tech, but they are currently made from hard-to-get components whose supply is under threat. Now, European scientists are developing replacements based on cutting-edge manufacturing processes and common elements.
Rare earth deposits found in Sweden, Finland, Greece and Spain suggest that Europe could reduce its reliance on imports of these critical raw materials, but the biggest challenge facing scientists is how best to extract and process them.
To mark the first European conference on connected and automated driving, Horizon magazine investigates some of the hottest EU research topics in the field, from whether man or machine makes the decision in critical situations, to the potential for cyber criminals to create chaos on the roads, as well as revisiting some of our favourite articles about the future of transport.
As our reliance on the internet continues to expand into every area of our lives, the threat from cyber attacks and hacking are never far from the headlines. This month, Horizon looks at how Europe can keep its digital borders intact. We find out how artificial intelligence is learning on the job to better detect security breaches and how the unique way that you interact with your phone or computer could be used to verify your digital identity. Plus, we find out what the EU is doing to protect critical infrastructure such as power grids from an increased threat of attack.
Robots and plants are being intricately linked into a new type of living technology that its creators believe could be used to grow a house.
Robots steer plants to grow in pre-programmed forms.
Insulin resistance links the two diseases.
Railway networks, power stations and telephone grids are constantly being targeted, says Georg Peter.