Reflections of an ECS Intern

ECS logoMy name is Andrew Ryan. For the past eight months, I served as a Membership Services Intern at ECS under the direction of Beth Fisher. Though I worked on many different projects throughout my time at ECS, my primary contribution was writing membership related posts for the ECS website’s Redcat Blog. A great deal of the posts written over the course of the past eight months with the byline “ECS Staff” were written by me.

An English major who graduated from The College of New Jersey this past May, I was absolutely honored to have the opportunity to write for a website with such a thriving viewership. It was beyond fulfilling to be able to apply my passion for writing in a professional environment.

But ECS was more to me than a writing outlet. It was more to me than a desk job or a resume line. It was a truly, positively rewarding experience.

Let me tell you why.

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The Riddle of Microscopy

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Photos and text by Galina Strukova and Gennady Strukov.

In a response to a recent call for photos, Galina Strukova sent us some great shots of the microworld of palladium-nickle alloy.

You’re looking at pictures of real objects of the palladium-nickel alloy, the size of the samples ranging from tens of micrometers to 1-2 millimeters.

They are produced via self-organization of nano-sized (several nanometer in diameter) wires growing on porous membranes under the action of electric current pulses. The authors have managed to isolate and photograph them by means of a modern electron microscope. They have described this 3D sculptures in scientific journals.

Such antenna-like samples are expected to find application in nanotechnology. Now we can produce such “sculptures” from various metals “by order,” examine them and admire their elegant forms.

However, it is still a riddle. Why does it so closely resemble plants and seashells? Does this mysterious self-organization have anything in common with formation of plant leaves, fungi, and seashells?

Read Strukova and Strukov’s previous installment, “The Beauty and Mystery of the Microworld.”



PS: Do you have interesting science photos you’d like us to share on the ECS Redcast Blog? Send your pictures and a short write-up to rob.gerth@electrochem.org. We’re always looking for great guest posts!

Simpler, Cost Effective Electropolishing

Nb cavityPhotos and text by E. Jennings Taylor.

In a response to a recent call for photos, ECS Treasurer E. Jennings Taylor sent us some great shots of the innovative research coming out of Faraday Technology Inc. Here’s the first one:

Regarding this photo, it is a superconducting radio frequency (SRF) cavity made of niobium.

These SRF cavities are used in particle accelerators, such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), as well as accelerators for medical isotope production and ion therapy treatment.

So, why is this relevant to electrochemistry? The internal surface of these SRF cavities must be electropolished in order for them to achieve their particle accelerating characteristics. Faraday Technology Inc. electrochemists are developing a simpler, more cost effective electropolishing process based on pulse reverse electropolishing .

Take a look at the research in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

PS: Do you have interesting science photos you’d like us to share on the ECS Redcast Blog? Send your pictures and a short write-up to rob.gerth@electrochem.org. We’re always looking for great guest posts!

Real Interface in Conventional SOFC

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Photos and text by Shu-Sheng Liu.

Here is our image obtained by STEM. It was published recently in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, 162 (2015) F750-F754. It was also presented in Glasgow conference.

It is a stable high-index Ni-YSZ interface of a conventional solid oxide fuel cell.

Our study is the first attempt to analyze the real interface in conventional SOFC.

The Beauty and Mystery of the Microworld

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Photos and text by Galina Strukova and Gennady Strukov.

The beauty of these pictures is intriguing and fascinating by its asymmetric, exquisite and intricate pattern. What is it? Is it a product of a novel computer program or photographs of fine creations of nature? Neither statement is true. In fact, these are not pictures, but images of metal samples made with an electron microscope.

Only some color is added to the images to emphasize their resemblance to natural objects of our macroworld: seashells, jelly-fish, leaves of exotic plants. The size of the samples is from tens of micrometers to 1-2 millimeters. They are produced via self-organization of nano-sized (millionth of a millimeter) wires growing on porous membranes under the action of electric current pulses.

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This is how such volumetric (3D) sculptures are described in scientific journals [1- 3] along with the experimental conditions for their reproduction, i.e., the conditions of the process (electrolyte composition, porous membrane, pulsed current mode) are specified, when growing nanowires organize themselves in an inexplicable fashion into “sculptures” that show perfect resemblance to natural creations. The authors have managed to isolate and photograph them with a modern electron microscope.

Besides, they have proved that the internal structure of this metallic “seashells” is a volumetric multilayer network woven by nano-sized wires. Such antenna-like samples are expected to find application in nanotechnology. Now we can produce such “sculptures” from various metals “by order”, examine them and admire their elegant forms and fascinating beauty. However, it is still a riddle. Why do they so closely resemble shells and leaves? Does this mysterious self-organization have anything in common with formation of plant leaves and seashells?


[1] J of Bionic Engineering 10 (2013) 368–376
[2] Materials Today 16 (2013) 98–99
[3] Materials Letters 128 (2014) 212-215