Technology relies on new ideas. And in recent decades, there has been an explosion of new ideas about materials just a fraction of the size of a human hair. Nanomaterials - materials on the scale of nanometres - promise to improve and even revolutionise products from electricity cables to personal electronics to solar panels.
The EU-funded RAMCIP project is developing a novel domestic service robot to assist the elderly, Alzheimer's patients and people suffering mild cognitive impairments with daily activities. The robot will be able to decide autonomously when and how to intervene to assist its user.
PANA has set out to develop an innovative method to diagnose Alzheimer's in its early stages, up to five years before the occurrence of clinical symptoms. This could increase the duration and quality of patients' lives considerably.
For millennia astronomers have looked to the sky and gazed in wonder at the stars and planets. Ancient civilisations already realised that objects in the sky appeared to move in a regular manner, and many communities used the stars to determine when to plant and harvest their crops.
To increase the uptake of electric vehicles in European urban areas, the EU-funded WEEVIL project is developing a light three-wheeler that meets users' expectations in terms of comfort, driving experience, innovation and affordability.
An EU-funded project is developing two new deep-water gliders that would expand the ability of scientists and industry to measure the environmental impact of commercial activities such as drilling for oil and gas at sea. The autonomous gliders, sort of deep-sea drones, would also be able to extract better and more meaningful data from greater depths. The insights gained from improved ocean monitoring would contribute to the management of maritime resources.
Conventional industrial chemical production requires harsh conditions and environmentally unfriendly processes to transform raw materials like crude oil into useful chemicals and plastics. But imagine if nature's own chemical cell factories could turn cheap starting materials such as organic waste leftover from farming or food processing into recyclable components for the chemical industry.
In northern Sweden, some 150km inside the Arctic Circle where winter temperatures can fall to -45c, it's thaw season. Futuris went to meet a group of biologists studying the basic mechanisms used by plants to survive in this challenging ecosystem.And the variety of colours of their flowers is one of those survival mechanisms as pollinating insects are attracted by their colours.
As Europe's population ages, cancer has become the leading cause of death. Therapeutic targeting - changing the activity of a protein or nucleic acid with a stimulus - is of limited use because of the complexity of cancer: changes take place within the tumour cell itself, but also in the cell's microenvironment. An EU-funded project will increase understanding of cancer progression and provide the basis for new, targeted approaches.
Using a range of new technologies, EU-funded researchers are on a mission to create greener ships. They plan to cut fuel use and CO2 emissions by 25%, and other emissions (sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter) by 100%.