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Video: Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year 2018

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Publication Date: 
October 2018

 

Transcript

[Music plays and text appears below the Malcolm McIntosh Prize logo: Associate Professor Jack Clegg, Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year]

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg holding a small beaker of liquid up above his head inspecting it]

A/P Jack Clegg:

We’re in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences of the University of Queensland. Our first main area of work focuses on making large molecules with holes in the middle of them that we can put smaller molecules inside.

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg and a colleague operating a piece of scientific equipment in a laboratory type setting]

We can program exceptionally simple molecules to come together into things that are much more complex. Something like 50 per cent of the world’s energy production currently goes into the purification of industrial chemicals.

[Image changes to show more colleagues gathering together in a laboratory type setting]

And this is everything from purification of crude oil, through to the safe manufacture of anti-cancer drugs, which are incredibly expensive.

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg looking at 3D models on a computer monitor, while another colleague is viewing slides through a microscope]

One of the reasons they’re so expensive is because it’s very hard to make things pure. My molecules will assist in the purification of drugs amongst other things, which will drive down the cost of these lifesaving medicines.

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg writing on a whiteboard with a group of people seated at a table and watching him]

The second area is involved in engineering new properties into crystals. Crystals underpin just about every electronic technology we use in our modern lives.

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg talking to the camera]

Everything from interacting with radio waves to semi-conducting electronics relies on crystals.

[Image changes to show a male standing in front of a glass display cabinet that has scientific equipment in it and while writing in a book]

Crystals, they do really interesting things with electricity and light. The problem with crystals is they break when you bend them.

[Image changes back to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg talking to the camera]

What we’ve done is understood how and why some crystals can be appreciably more flexible than others.

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg standing with an outstretched arm with a computer generated image of a molecule sitting above his opened hand]

We’ve got some crystals now that are so flexible we can tie them in a knot.

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg standing with an outstretched arm with a computer generated image of a crystal tied in a knot sitting above his opened hand]

[Image changes back to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg talking to the camera]

One of the things that’s excellent about the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science is it sheds light on things that might otherwise stay in the laboratory.

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg walking with a black lever arch folder in his hand, he walks into a laboratory]

What I love about chemistry is being able to design something from first principles and getting to the lab and make it.

[Image changes to show the camera zooming in on Associate Professor Jack Clegg who is standing in a laboratory, his colleague can be seen in the background on a microscope]

It’s a little bit like a cross between playing with Lego and cooking.

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Jack Clegg]

[Music plays and text appears below the Malcolm McIntosh Prize logo: Associate Professor Jack Clegg, Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year]

Read more

Read more about the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2018