The aim of the SimConDrill project is to build a cyclone filter that can efficiently remove tiny plastic particles from large quantities of water. © KLASS-Filter GmbH, Türkenfeld, Germany.

Microplastics enter our wastewater and the environment on a daily basis. Yet wastewater treatment plants struggle to filter out enough of these tiny plastic particles. Fortunately, help is on hand in the form of the SimConDrill research project, which the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been funding since 2019. Combining the expertise of five partners from industry and research, the aim of the project is to jointly develop a filter featuring tiny, laser-drilled holes that can remove plastic particles as small as 10 micrometers from wastewater. This remarkable innovation has now been nominated for the prestigious Green Award.

Flexible electronic skin equipped with an array of giant magneto resistance sensors and complex electronics circuit designed and developed for sensing distribution of magnetic field. Photo: Masaya Kondo

Researchers from Dresden and Osaka present the first fully integrated flexible electronics made of magnetic sensors and organic circuits which opens the path towards the development of electronic skin. Human skin is a fascinating and multifunctional organ with unique properties originating from its flexible and compliant nature. It allows for interfacing with external physical environment through numerous receptors interconnected with the nervous system. Scientists have been trying to transfer these features to artificial skin for a long time, aiming at robotic applications.

The measuring device can help automotive manufacturers reduce vehicle emissions by developing new combustion engines or by exhaust after-treatment. © Bainschab

Together with international partners, researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a measurement method that measures particles below 10 nanometres for the first time and will contribute to the implementation of future, stricter emission standards. A few days ago, the European Commission presented its Green Deal, which aims to make the EU climate neutral by 2050 in order to protect the environment and improve people's health and quality of life. One of the planned measures is the introduction of stricter exhaust regulations. The limit values for pollutant emissions from vehicles have already been laid down by law.

The newly developed material conducts heat well along the layers, while at the same time providing thermal insulation vertically. © MPI-P, Lizenz CC-BY-SA

Styrofoam or copper - both materials have very different properties with regard to their ability to conduct heat. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz and the University of Bayreuth have now jointly developed and characterized a novel, extremely thin and transparent material that has different thermal conduction properties depending on the direction. While it can conduct heat extremely well in one direction, it shows good thermal insulation in the other direction. 
Thermal insulation and thermal conduction play a crucial role in our everyday lives - from computer processors, where it is important to dissipate heat as quickly as possible, to houses, where good insulation is essential for energy costs. Often extremely light, porous materials such as polystyrene are used for insulation, while heavy materials such as metals are used for heat dissipation. A newly developed material, which scientists at the MPI-P have jointly developed and characterized with the University of Bayreuth, can now combine both properties.