Thu, 26 Feb 15
Chromium is the metal of modernity - the key ingredient in stainless steel. But this chemical element also has a dark side - one brought to public attention by Erin Brockovich.
Wed, 18 Feb 15
Nickel is the metal that made the jet age possible, not to mention margarine and bicycle sprockets. We visit Rolls Royce to discover the incredible materials science that this chemical element and its super-alloys have driven.
Wed, 8 Oct 14
The fuel for nuclear power stations, uranium splits environmentalists down the middle. Is carbon-free nuclear a green energy option? Or are its global warming credentials trumped by the 10,000-year question of how to deal with its radioactive waste?
Wed, 1 Oct 14
Lead is the sweetest of poisons, blamed for everything from mad Roman emperors to modern-day crime waves. Yet a lead-acid battery is still what gets your car going in the morning. So have we finally learnt how to handle this heavyweight element?
Wed, 24 Sep 14
The atomic clock runs on caesium, and has redefined the very meaning of time. But it has also introduced a bug into timekeeping that affects everything from computerised financial markets to electricity grids to satellite navigation to the Greenwich Meridian.
Wed, 17 Sep 14
Famed as an anti-aphrodisiac, bromine's biggest use is actually in dousing flames in your home, not in your heart. Bromine-based fire retardants are found in everything from your sofa to your radio. But this chemical element has also sparked a series of health scares. So is bromine something to worry about, or is it just the victim of "chemophobia"?
Thu, 11 Sep 14
Plutonium is one of a family of highly radioactive "synthetic" elements cooked up in nuclear reactors. But does it and its kin have any practical application besides the atom bomb? We travel to plutonium's sunny birthplace to find out.
Mon, 18 Aug 14
Silicon is a key component in solar panel manufacturing and as such is crucial to the future of power for the planet. We hear from John Schaeffer, a solar power pioneer, Richard Swanson of Sun Power and Lynn Jurich, founder of Sunrun, busy developing ways to make solar panel manufacturing and distribution ever more cost efficient. Meanwhile Barry Goldwater Jr., former Republican Congressman, is busy fighting its cause in the corridors of power. The sun, he says, will win the day.
Thu, 31 Jul 14
Silicon is the basis of the hi-tech revolution - why is it so important in the manufacture of silicon chips? And will we continue to rely on it into the future?
Wed, 30 Jul 14
Smelly and colourful, much of our sulphur comes as a byproduct of oil and gas. It is used in fertilisers, to strengthen materials and as sulphuric acid it is the most widely used industrial chemical. The world faces a glut of this chemical element, what uses can it be put to?
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