Some of the most famous scientific discoveries happened by accident. From Teflon and the microwave oven to penicillin, scientists trying to solve a problem sometimes find unexpected things. This is exactly how we created phosphorene nanoribbons – a material made from one of the universe’s basic building blocks, but that has the potential to revolutionise a wide range of technologies.
How to store energy has become as important a challenge as how to generate it. The types of batteries that power our electronic devices or vehicles are tried and tested, but they’re not suitable for really large-scale energy storage – the sort of batteries that can power whole communities, key emergency services and critical infrastructure.