There might remain a lingering romance to the idea of the lone scientific genius – a freakish mega-mind in the mould of Albert Einstein or Nikola Tesla. But more often than not, genuine breakthroughs and new discoveries stem from the efforts of the many rather than the few.
Spectrecom recently had the opportunity to film just such a potent collaboration – namely Professor Klaus Hellgardt and Dr Mimi Hii, both of whom are senior academics at Imperial College London.
The video we filmed with the pair was one in a four-part research series for Imperial going under the collective banner of Impact Acceleration.
Meeting with Mimi and Klaus at the university’s South Kensington campus ahead of filming, we felt their natural repartee embodied the dialogue they’ve successfully established between their respective disciplines of chemistry and chemical engineering.
As such, producer Clemence Bartram and director Chris Karageorgiou decided to foreground Mimi and Klaus’s personal relationship within the video. This influenced the editing, which keeps the sound-bites switching between the two of them, and also the use of split-screen, giving a genuine dual perspective.
By taking this route, the audience are provided with a warm, authentic introduction to the duo’s work.
That work is entirely fascinating in its own right. Together, Mimi and Klaus are streamlining the traditionally troublesome process of getting chemical discoveries to engineers, in turn enabling them to start being applied to real-world problems.
A question of scale is often the problem; what works at microscale can be fettered by a whole host of issues ranging from cost to safety when scaled up to industrial dimensions.
Initially working independently, Mimi and Klaus both suggested a possible solution making use of the cheapest, cleanest ingredients there are – namely water and air. A mutual colleague put them in touch and, seven years later, their partnership has scarcely looked back.
A key component of their approach is something any storytellers reading this will be very familiar with: know your ending. In Mimi and Klaus’s case, this means thinking about the end-process upfront, before developing backwards towards a solution.
Working this way, they have created a device which uses water, electricity and a diamond component to create an oxidation process with a wide range of possible real-world uses.
It could be used to clean contaminated sites, such as an oil spill. It could be used for water filtration in developing nations. And it might even allow for self-dousing, detergent-free washing machines.
All the videos in the series highlight a different piece of cutting edge research to have benefitted from Imperial’s Impact Acceleration Fund, which helps the university’s academics to maximise the social and economic impact of their work.
We will bring you the fourth and final video in the series on the blog this week
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Hayley Canning is our Digital Marketing Manager. With almost 5 years of digital marketing experience, she’s the expert on getting your video seen by the right audiences online.