Thumbnail image for Curing blindness by repairing corneas with invisible films

A patented treatment could restore eyesight for millions of sufferers of corneal disease. The University of Melbourne–led team of researchers have grown corneal cells on a layer of film that can be implanted in the eye to help the cornea heal itself. They have successfully restored vision in animal trials and are aiming to move […]

Fresh Science is a national competition helping early-career researchers find, and then share, their stories of discovery.

The program takes up-and-coming researchers with no media experience and turns them into spokespeople for science, giving them a taste of life in the limelight, with a day of media training and a public event in their home state.

Fresh Science 2016 was held in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and NSW.

Fresh Science nominations for 2017 will open mid-year. If you would like to partner with us on Fresh Science, please get in touch.

Take a look at the work of all our past Freshies.

Swinburne University researchers have discovered that well-fed bacteria won’t damage ships hulls.

Awais visualising a corrosive steel surface due to bacteria using a 3D optical profilometer-credit DMTC Australia

Awais visualising a corrosive steel surface caused by bacteria using a 3D optical profilometer-credit DMTC Australia

By giving bacteria tasty food, in the form of different chemicals, Muhammad Awais Javed is distracting bacteria from eating metal and other surfaces.

Bacteria are well known for the risk they pose to human health. But they also pose a risk to inanimate materials, costing the maritime and oil and gas sectors billions of dollars each year in damages.

Bacteria can gain energy from iron and other chemical elements at the surfaces of metals, ceramics, and plastics. In the process of attacking these surfaces for food, they cause corrosion and damage. [click to continue…]

The chance detection of one large family’s predisposition to small eyes has given Flinders University researcher Mona Awadalla a new angle on the disease glaucoma.

Are small eyes related to glaucoma? Credit: istockphoto

Are small eyes related to glaucoma? Credit: istockphoto

Mona and her colleagues identified a new gene mutation that leads to reduced eyeball size, which led to glaucoma in 16 members of one family.

Known as TMEM98, the gene codes for a protein found in several parts of the eye.

“We think this protein plays a role in eye growth,” explains Mona. “We’re now screening other families with inherited small eyes – a condition known as nanophthalmos – to see if the mutation is more common.”

[click to continue…]

Geelong scientists have discovered they can use microwave chemistry to make carbon fibre composite materials stronger and safer more quickly.

Carbon fibre composite materials are both light and strong, making them a great alternative to metal in a huge range of applications, from bikes and sports equipment to prosthetic limbs, planes and cars. They’re made up of carbon fibres that are set inside solid plastic.

Kathleen Beggs

Kathleen Beggs

But the materials have an Achilles heel: sometimes the fibres and plastic don’t stick well together and can come apart, making the material weak or causing it to crack.

By heating the carbon fibres in the microwave, Kathleen Beggs from the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin University, is able to attach chemical compounds to the carbon fibre that enable them to stick to the plastic better. This makes the composite material much stronger, therefore increasing the safety of the product.

This technique can be performed using conventional heating, like an oven, but microwaving is much more efficient – the reaction can take up to 24 hours using conventional heating, but just 30 minutes under microwave heating.

This is because microwave heating works from the inside out (conventional heating does the opposite, working from the outside in), which provides more evenly distributed heat, speeding up the reaction.

[click to continue…]