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.
Many of us depend on coffee to fuel our early morning meetings, mid-afternoon slumps or all-night study sessions. These days, the words “coffee” and “fuel” are half-jokingly synonymous. More than 9m tonnes of the bean are produced annually around the world and, once we brew it, an awful lot of waste is created. The vast majority ends up in landfill.