World's top 10 S&T achievements in 2011

Updated: 2012-01-17 22:32


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BEIJING - Following are the world's top 10 science and technology achievements in 2011 unveiled Tuesday, as chosen by academicians with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering:

1. Versatile method to create atom-thick sheets

An international research team, including researchers from Oxford University, published a report in Science in February, announcing that they had invented a simple, fast and inexpensive way to create one-atom-thick "nanosheets" from a wide variety of materials. The new method is expected to lead to revolutionary technological progress.

2. Largest solar-powered plane completes international flight

The Swiss-made Solar Impulse, the world's largest solar-powered plane, successfully completed its first international flight in May, flying 630 kilometers from Switzerland to Brussels, Belgium in some 13 hours.

3. Trapping antihydrogen for 1,000 seconds

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research announced in June that they had trapped 309 antihydrogen atoms for up to 1,000 seconds, or more than 16 minutes. The move will help offer insights into the nature of anti-matter.

4. First biological laser

Scientists with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts announced in June that they had created the world's first biological laser by merging light-emitting proteins from jellyfish with a single human cell, according to a report published in Nature Photonics. It is believed that such lasers can be useful in studying a specific body cell or treating diseases.

5. Anti-laser

Scientists at Yale University announced in February that they had built the world's first anti-laser, in which incoming beams of light interfere with one another and cancel each other out. The discovery has potential applications in optical computing and other fields.

6. Mars rover Curiosity launched

NASA launched Curiosity, the world's largest extraterrestrial explorer, in November. The rover is expected to land on Mars on August 6, 2012, and investigate Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. Its mission duration is one Mars year, or about 687 days on Earth.

7. Crystal storing information encoded into entangled quantum

Researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada and the University of Paderborn in Germany successfully demonstrated, for the first time, that a crystal can store information encoded into entangled quantum states of photons, according to their article published in Nature in January 2011. The discovery is a milestone on the path toward quantum networks.

8. Potato genome sequencing

A project team consisting of 29 research groups from 14 countries, including Chinese scientists, published a high-quality draft sequence of the potato genome in Nature in July. The sequence will help scientists and breeders improve the yield, quality, nutritional value and disease resistance of potato varieties.

9. Fastest computer

Japanese IT giant Fujitsu and the government-funded RIKEN research institute announced in November that they had built the world's fastest computer which can speed through 10.51 quadrillion floating point operations per second. The supercomputer is the first megamachine to achieve 10 quadrillion operations a second.

10. Smallest electric car

Researchers in the Netherlands invented the world's smallest electric car made of a single molecule. The technology can be used to bring an extremely small amount of drug to a designated part of a human body.