This month, Horizon explores the weird and wonderful world of 2D materials. We talk to researchers revving up for a nano car race on a track the size of a flu virus, and others who are splicing atom-thick layers to create materials with on-demand properties. We find out how one scientist is bending and stretching 2D materials to create ultra-small sensors, and discover some of the other potential applications creating a buzz, including energy storage and high-power computing.
Bending and stretching 2D materials to change their properties could lead to ultra-small sensors that can help us understand how gravity works at the microscopic scale, according to Professor Kirill Bolotin from Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, who leads the EU-funded Strained2DMaterials project to uncover what happens to 2D materials under strain.
Robots won’t replace doctors any day soon, but they can already help medical professionals do amazing things. This month, Horizon looks at how robots will someday perform remote physical and ultrasound examinations so doctors can make a diagnosis from a distance, and medical avatars for elderly people that help them stay fit and safe. Plus, we see how computer games could make young people lead healthier lifestyles and how to give self-help apps more scientific merit.
How will we have enough food to feed another 2 billion people by the middle of this century without destroying our planet? Agriculture is already one of the biggest contributors to climate change. This month, we hear from scientists designing disease-resistant crops using gene editing, packing more calcium into finger millet, and resurrecting ancient crop varieties to offset the sector’s environmental impact. Plus, we hear from Dr Manoj Dora about so-called lean agriculture, which is looking to make agriculture more sustainable by eliminating waste from the production process.
Using off-the-shelf technology and innovative economics, lightweight helium balloons have started carrying remote-controlled laboratories to the edge of space and back, offering the business case for new types of science missions.
Floating research laboratories are reaching the fringes of space.
Automated and connected devices can save lives.
EU firms should be brought within ‘innovation ecosystems’ to develop breakthrough technology, according to Prof. Luke Georghiou.