Shortlisted entries 2011

9. Shedding Light on H2O
Environment, Francis Lydiatt

Corrosion or ‘rusting’ costs the UK over £60 billion or 4% of its Gross National Product (GNP) every year, and is key to the lifetime of many essential structures such as bridges, power transmission towers and wind turbines. The [above/adjoining/following] photograph shows part of an experiment that uses powerful laser light and some sneaky science to look at the small-scale behaviour of water molecules on metal surfaces. Oddly enough, the smaller the thing you’re trying to look at, the bigger and more complicated your experiment tends to be! A better understanding of how water and other molecules from the atmosphere behave on metals will lead to better corrosion prevention techniques (paints, coatings, surface preparations etc.) thus saving the UK lots of money annually and meaning our pipes and pylons will be healthy and functional for many more years to come.

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