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Metallic foams for face masks, why the UK needs an X-ray free electron laser

08 Jul 2021 Hamish Johnston

Wearing a face mask is a part of daily life for many of us; but how much do we know about the physics behind how they work? In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast, Kai Liu at Georgetown University explains why a nanoporous metallic foam that he has developed could lead to masks that offer better protection from diseases such as COVID-19.

Big science facilities such as X-ray free electron lasers (X-FELs) play an important role in the development of new materials – indeed they support a broad range of science from physics and chemistry to biology and medicine. Adam Kirrander of the University of Edinburgh and Jon Marangos of Imperial College London join the podcast to argue the case for building an X-FEL in the UK.

Also in this podcast, Physics World editors talk about three of their favourite stories from this week: an ion clock in space; a vanishing pacemaker; and a LEGO microscope.

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