Bor-Yann-LiawBor Yann Liaw is a respected battery-related researcher, working in advanced power sources and energy storage systems at the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. He has recently been appointed to the ECS Electrochemical Science & Technology (EST) Editorial Board as an Associate Editor for a two year-term, concentrating in Batteries & Energy Storage.

What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as the EST Editorial Board Assistant Editor?
I think that the impact of the journal is very high, but we need to have more people get involved. I am hoping to promote high-quality papers to be submitted to the journal and be part of the effort to promote the awareness of the journal.

What type of expertise do you bring?
I’ve been working in this area for about three decades, so I think that I have enough knowledge between the newer developments of materials, especially in the nano area, versus the most traditional and classic framework of electrochemistry. We’ll see whether we can bridge the technology gap between the two sets of skills into a more coherent framework, so we understand how the materials in a nanoscale can relate to the classical models or understandings for the electrochemistry.

What are the practical applications regarding your research in sugar-air batteries?
Recently we were working with farmers in Hawaii. We have a lot of papaya that are not marketable, which means they look ugly and are not really sellable. We can take those papaya and grind them up and take the juice and put it into a battery and it’s worked like a charm.

What initially got you interested in science?
My parents are both teachers, so I was inspired in the teaching and the education of possibilities of science. Another thing is probably more with my personality. I’m interested in exploring everything that occurs in our daily lives.

What is the biggest challenge going forward for clean energy?
We probably have to come back to more fundamental understandings and make things much easier and simpler so the cost can come down and the impact to the environment can be drastically reduced.

PEFC 15 Student Poster Awards

PEFC-postersThe PhD Student Poster Awards of the PEFC 15 Symposium held at the 228th ECS Meeting in Phoenix, AZ, Oct. 2015 were presented to (pictured left to right) Shuntaro Takahashi (Tohoku University, Japan), Yuji Chino (Yamanashi University, Japan), and Peter Dudenas (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) for their excellent scientific contributions in the field of Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell Research.

PEFC 15 symposium organizers, Thomas Schmidt and Hubert Gasteiger, are also pictured.

Twenty-three posters were entered. See them all here.

Some people strive to continue family tradition, while others prefer to cut their own path. Patrick Linford, grandson of prestigious electrochemist Henry Linford, happens to be stepping into his grandfather’s shoes merely by coincidence.

“If you’d rewind my life to last year, I had no idea what electrochemistry actually was,” says Linford.

Linford, current graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and U.S. Army Officer, was always fascinated by science and the technical side of things. Despite Linford’s grandfather dying a few years before his birth, their academic and career paths have many similarities.

More Sustainable Energy

Currently, Linford is conducting research in alternative energy—specifically, thermogalvanic batteries to power wireless sensors using waste heat.

“This work has tremendous applications in both the military realm and on the civilian side,” says Linford.

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Making Green Fuels from Carbon Dioxide

The new, inexpensive catalyst could lead to the transformation of CO2 into green fuel.Angewandte Chemie.

The new, inexpensive catalyst could lead to the transformation of CO2 into green fuel.
Image: Angewandte Chemie

On a global scale, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the number one contributor to dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing levels of CO2 accelerate the devastating effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and a higher global temperature. In order to reduce these emissions, researchers are tackling projects from the implementation of a clean energy infrastructure to scrubbing CO2 from the atmosphere. The researchers from the University of South Carolina are exploring even another innovative way to reduce CO2 emissions by turning the harmful byproduct into fuel.

The team, led by ECS member Xiao-Dong Zhou, is looking for a way to harness CO2 emissions that already exist in the environment and use green technologies to inject energy and produce fuel.

Making Green Fuels

While 100 percent renewable energy may be the ultimate answer for the energy infrastructure, it is difficult for industrialized countries that heavily depend on traditional combustion technologies to make that transition so rapidly. The implementation of wind and solar technologies on the large scale also raises question to grid efficiency, reliability, and storage.

One solution to this issue is by using technologies such as solar and wind to turn harmful CO2 emissions into clean, usable fuels.

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The newly established UCLA student chapter: Front: Ben Lesel, Sarah H. Tolbert, Clair Shen, Yan YanMiddle: Ty Karaba, Terri Lin, John B. CookBack: Allen Liang, Erick Harr, Dan Baumann

Front: Ben Lesel, Sarah H. Tolbert, Clair Shen, Yan Yan
Middle: Ty Karaba, Terri Lin, John B. Cook
Back: Allen Liang, Erick Harr, Dan Baumann

With collaboration opportunities and innovative workshops, the newly established UCLA student chapter is providing both social and academic experiences for those involved.

Since its approval at the 228th ECS Meeting, the UCLA student chapter has been hard at work creating a robust, multifaceted group where students from all areas of electrochemical science can come together.

“Science, at the entry level, progresses much more efficiently when there is an open dialogue between researchers,” says John Cook, chair of the UCLA student chapter. “Electrochemical science cannot be done alone in a dark room.”

Cook and a collaborator began developing the UCLA student chapter very organically, with the idea that there needed to be a way to bring together the many groups across the campus working in electrochemistry. For Cook, establishing an ECS student chapter was the perfect solution.

“Our main goal is to bring people from different departments together to share ideas,” says Cook. “We want to create an environment in which chemists, engineers, physicists, and even business majors collaborate and share ideas.”

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Building Better Electronic Devices

The development of the silicon chip forever changed the field of electronics and the world at large. From computers to cellphones to digital home appliances, the silicon chip has become an inextricable part of the structure of our society. However, as silicon begins to reach its limits many researchers are looking for new materials to continue the electronics revolution.

Fan Ren, Distinguished Professor at the University of Florida and Technical Editor of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology, has based his career in the field of electronics and semiconductor devices. From his time at Bell Labs through today, Ren has witnessed much change in the field.

Future of Electronics

Upon coming to the United States from Taiwan, Ren was hired by Bell Labs. This hub of innovation had a major impact on Ren and his work, and is where he first got his hands-on semiconductor research. During this time, silicon was the major player as far as electronic materials went. While electronics have transformed since that time, the materials used to create integrated circuits have essentially stayed the same.

People keep saying of other semiconductors, “This will be the material for the next generation of devices,” says Ren. “However, it hasn’t really changed. Silicon is still dominating.”

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ECS Podcast – Oral History of Harold J. Read

We’re delving into our archives with our new Masters Series podcasts. In 1995, ECS and the Chemical Heritage Foundation worked together to compile oral histories of some of the key players in electrochemical and solid state science. Now, we’re bringing those personal perspectives to life.

Today you’ll be hearing from Harold J. Read, a renowned metallurgist who turned his private workspace into a military metal shop to assist in work on the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Listen and download these episodes and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.

Inspired by nature, Shelley Minteer and her research group at the University of Utah are looking for a way to merge electrochemistry and biology. With a little inspiration, Minteer aims to bring to life innovative devices that can be applied to anything from fuel cells to electrosynthesis.

“We’re looking at biological inspiration,” says Minteer. “As electrochemists, we’re looking at things in terms of the molecular biology of living cells and seeing how we can make a better electrochemical cell from that.”

Inspiration from Biology

The sciences of biology and electrochemistry tend to have many fundamental concepts in common. On the biological side, one can look at how humans eat and metabolize food in a comparative way to the functions of a fuel cell. Additionally, plants and electrosynthesis work similarly in the way they take in CO2 and produce fuel.

“As a group, we’re looking to see if we could use biology as our inspiration to do electrochemistry, and that has taken us into a lot of different applications,” says Minteer.

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2015 ECS Outstanding Student Chapter

ECS would like to introduce its 2015 ECS Outstanding Student Chapter Award recipient, Indiana University!

Indiana University Student Chapter officers and advisors proudly holding their award plaque.

Indiana University Student Chapter officers and advisors proudly holding their award plaque.

The Outstanding Student Chapter Award is a prestigious award given annually at the fall ECS bi-annual meeting. An Outstanding Student Chapter recipient actively participates in the ECS community, hosts their own community outreach activities and lectures, and has devoted, hardworking members.

With over twenty members, Indiana University Student Chapter is led by Professor Dennis Peters and Professor Lane Baker. This group is made up of members from different research backgrounds, which allows discussion to vary and provide insight into the numerous fields of electrochemistry, including bioanalytical and environmental. The chapter has hosted guest speakers, including Allen J. Bard and Nate Lewis, on their campus to not only present seminars, but also give career advice.

The mission of the Indiana Student Chapter is to spread knowledge of electrochemical science to the younger members of their community. This year will mark the fourth year in a row that this chapter volunteered at Science Fest, where chapter members host an entire laboratory with hands-on electrochemical experiments. This coming year they will also add a research talk, open to all.

The Indiana Student Chapter strives to build a better forum for students with different backgrounds to share their ideas, host and conduct outreach activities, while furthering their professional development.

Congratulations, Indiana University!

Electric Bikes Providing Sustainable Solutions

Tucker1From solar energy to biofuels to hydrogen cars—sustainable solutions have become some of the hottest topics in the scientific community. While much of the focus in alternative forms of transportation has been automobiles (see Tesla and Toyota), ECS member Telpriore Gregory Tucker is shifting his attention in another direction: electric bikes. While Tucker’s bikes hold promise for the future of sustainable transportation, they could also potentially have a much greater impact.

“I don’t just sell electric bikes, I actually provide people with sustainable solutions,” says Tucker, founder of the Southwest Battery Bike Co.

Inspiration through education

The idea behind Tucker’s Phoenix, Arizona-based electric bike company started back in 2010 when he began volunteering with the youth at his church. As a mentoring program began to emerge, Tucker volunteered to addresses topics in STEM education.

“One of my personal goals is helping kids. I’ve been in a lot of programs as a child to help me get to where I am now,” says Tucker. “Giving back is important to me because I see a lot of kids in situations I’ve been in or environments that I’ve come from where a lot of the time, you don’t get that opportunity.”

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