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This week, The Alchemist learns of tricking a solid into acting as a liquid, two independent but related ways to manipulate matter in channels this week, and how genetics has given us three extra species of giraffe, while fracking has given us a new type of bacteria. We also hear that more flexible windows might now be possible and finally a Eureka award.

Scientists in Florida have made pressed the nanoporous material COF-5 into pellets and found that the X-ray crystal structure is anisotopric in such a way as to allow lithium ions to flow through it in a particular direction as if it were a fluid rather than a solid. The material's anomalous behavior might be exploited in rechargeable batteries and other technology where using liquids is untenable but the properties of liquids are desirable.

A new material to create light-activated micro-channels to transport liquid, has been created by researchers at Shanghai-based Fudan University. The development could lead to new technology for medical diagnostics, applications in chemical engineering, aviation and the aerospace industry. The channel shape in the material changes under light irradiation and the team has used this effect to control the flow of blood in a microfluidic test device.

You know how you wait for a giraffe to come along and another three turn up all at once? Apparently, we've safari fans and zoogoers have been duped all these years, what science thought was a single animals species and various sub-species genetic analysis now tells us is four distinct species: southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa), Masai giraffe (G. tippelskirchi), reticulated giraffe (G. reticulata), and northern giraffe (G. camelopardalis), which includes the Nubian giraffe (G. c. camelopardalis) as a distinct subspecies, according to Axel Janke of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and Goethe University in Germany and his colleagues.

Frackibacter are a new type of bacteria found to thrive in the depths of shales that have been fracked for their fossil fuels. Kelly Wrighton, assistant professor of microbiology and biophysics at Ohio State University, and colleagues have identified a new microbial genus of 31 members found living inside two separate fracturing wells separated by hundreds of miles. Most of the microbes found in samples from such wells have been seen elsewhere, but the "frackibacter" are new to science. Given their ecosystem they might provide new insights into biotransformations for chemical synthesis and processing.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have devised a low-temperature acid-catalyzed condensation of polyniobate clusters process for making depositing a smart coating on to a plastic substrate. The material could be used to make smart windows for buildings and vehicles to control heat and light in and out, improve heating and cooling efficiency and address other issues facing designers.

This year's winner of Australia's CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science is Gordon Wallace. Wallace "is an internationally renowned researcher in the field of electromaterials science and has cultivated a research vision in the area of 'intelligent polymers'. Through his leadership and ability to inspire, his collaborative team has pioneered the use of nanotechnology and additive fabrication in renewable energy and medical science," says the citation for the award.