Research highlights

New diagnostics

Antibodies fight infection. Their presence in our blood has allowed scientists to develop diagnostic tests for viruses like HIV and hepatitis. The orientation of the antibodies in the sample, however, is critical to the accuracy of the test. PhD student Nicholas Welch and Professor Paul Pigram, together with collaborators from CSIRO, have developed a surface that improves antibody orientation and enhances the sensitivity of disease detection in blood tests. Their findings, published in Biointerphases, may lead to a new generation of diagnostics.

Predicting the extent of global warming

Most of us associate global warming with greenhouse gases, which absorb radiation that is emitted by the earth. But clouds and aerosols also have a huge impact on climate change, reflecting sunlight and absorbing infrared light. Dr Evan Robertson specialises in icy aerosol particles, including those that are found in clouds at high altitudes. Forming artificial clouds in the lab helps reveal their properties, and how they absorb and scatter radiation. His research will help to improve models that predict the extent of global warming.

Developing diamond devices

The surface of diamond, when functionalised with an atomically thin layer of hydrogen, develops a surface conductivity that can be applied to a variety of electronic and biosensing applications. PhD student Golrokh Akhgar, along with Professor Chris Pakes and collaborators, have developed diamond devices that are capable of operating at temperatures of -273 degC; close to the lowest temperature possible. Their findings, published in Nano Letters, may lead to a new generation of low-power electronic devices that use the quantum mechanical spin of an electron, rather than its charge, to process information.