A fortunate accident with fighting power and the peacock copycat – IMPRESSO #41

In this IMPRESSO edition: A fortunate accident with fighting power, sugarcanes turning into energycanes and introducing the peacock copycat.


Fortunate accident with fighting power

It is almost 100 years ago, that Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered what we now know as penicillin. His discovery left a visible dent in the course of human history, as it enabled the treatment of bacterial infections with antibiotics. Now, in the advent of antibiotic resistance, another accidental discovery in the same field has been made. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University discovered a potentially game-changing treatment that could one day provide an alternative, immune-based solution to combat antibiotic resistance. It seems that luck is the common denominator when it comes to fighting bacterial infections! Read more


Sugarcane turns into energy energycane

One approach in the divestment from fossil fuels is the use of biofuels as a low-carbon alternative. Traditionally these fuels were produced out of plants like soybeans. However, in search of large-scale commercial viability, more giving crops like genetically modified sugarcane, better known as energycane, are replacing their fellow plant-mates. But while energycane can produce several times more fuel per acre than soybeans, the challenge of efficiently processing those plants to win biofuel remains. To advance this, researchers from the University of Illinois have tackled the challenge in four studies that cover new chemical-free pretreatment methods and feasibility-focused scenarios for energycane production. Read more


Introducing the peacock copycat

Aside from the obvious way of pigments absorbing light, color is created through various processes. One of these happens when light is reflected from within the material it penetrates. A stellar example of this process is peacock feathers, which usually appear brown but get their blue-green shine from small structural feathers. This “structural color” approach is being copied by researchers of Linköping University who use conductive polymers to create thinner, more lightweight displays with higher energy efficiency. One natural application for this innovation would be in displays, but potential novel uses such as digital labels could be implemented in supply chain management also. Read more