Shortlisted entries 2011

18. Clean green light
Environment, Jon Fellows

The manufacturing of technology has never been thought of as a clean process, requiring dangerous chemicals and harsh conditions. One cutting-edge area is exploring the application of ‘quantum dots’, crystals that are a billionth of a meter in size, to everything from next generation televisions to cancer treatment. The bottles in this image contain quantum dots that have been made in a new, ‘green’ way: they have been made by bacteria. Bacteria have been making these tiny crystals for millions of years as a defence against toxic chemicals in the environment, and my research has been searching the environment for bacteria that can be used to mass produce these quantum dots: a cleaner, greener, more environmentally friendly alternative. And these bacteria don’t require the expensive and dangerous chemicals that would otherwise be necessary; they can make them whilst cleaning up contaminated land.

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