PIC: BBC/Laura Mulholand

“Forget oil, coal and gas - a new set of materials is shaping our world and they’re so bizarre they may as well be alien technology.” That’s the hook for a BBC Four documentary airing next Wednesday, but there is another aspect that singles out the production. 

Secrets of the Super Elements is the first BBC documentary to be filmed entirely on smartphones.

PIC: BBC/Laura Mulholand

This move has a relevance to the subject. Material scientist Professor Mark Miodownik reveals the super elements that underpin our high-tech world. Some of those materials allow smart phones to work. But that age could be short lived.

PIC: BBC/Laura Mulholand

“We have become utterly dependent on them, but they are rare and they’re already running out,” say the programme makers. “The stuff that makes our smartphones work could be gone in a decade and our ability to feed the world depends mostly on a mineral found in just one country.”


Miodownik reveals the magical properties of these extraordinary materials and examines what we can do to save them.

Producer and Director Laura Mulholand tweeted on the progress of the shoot earlier in the year which included visits to Lancaster University Physics Department and also a sewage works in Nottinghamshire.

I want to see what they do with the super fluid helium.