A Farnborough scientist has teamed up with an Oxford zoologist to invent an amazing new material which may help people to survive in desert conditions.

Dr Chris Lawrence (34) lives with his wife and baby daughter on the Old Dean estate, Camberley, and his lab is at Qinetiq in Farnborough. He got the idea for the wonder material from an obscure African beetle.

He teamed up with Oxford zoologist Dr Andrew Parker to study the stenocara beetle which lives in the Namibian desert, one of the most arid places on the planet.

The beetle survives because of the unique surface of its back, which is designed in such a way that it can "harvest" the fog. After extensive study the scientists discovered that the surface of the beetle's back could be mimicked and reproduced in sheet form.

Said Dr Lawrence: "What we've learnt from the beetle is an improved method for condensing liquid from a vapour.

"The technology that we have copied from the beetle has many useful applications, ranging from collecting drinking water in arid regions to improvements in the efficiency of air conditioning systems."

He said there were 22 countries in the world desperate to collect water and many had fog blowing in from the sea which could be harvested.