Dr Who’s TARDIS may not have been quite so far-fetched an idea after all. A canister filled with new ‘nanocubes’ is able to hold several times more gas than an empty one. These crystals were developed by scientists working for chemical giant BASF, and are fantastically porous. Just a thimbleful has the surface area of a football pitch. What’s more, they are formed in a reaction so simple it could be done in a school chemistry lab. The crystals represent part of the company’s commitment to the emerging field of nanotechnology – materials on the scale of a billionth of a meter. In the case of their nanocubes, it is only the pores that are nano-scale – the crystals themselves are the size of salt grains.