Below is an excerpt from an article published in the winter 2017 edition of Interface.

By: Durga Misra, New Jersey Institute of Technology

Winter 2017 InterfaceThe explosive progress of information technology and 5th generation communication technology enables the introduction of the Internet of Things, where the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, and buildings embedded with sensors, electronics, software, and network connectivity—permits these physical objects to collect and exchange data. The use of dielectric materials in sensors for a multitude of applications such as self-driving cars has made the dielectric science and technology research even more significant than before.

More than seventy years ago, in 1945, it all started with establishing the Electric Insulation Division in ECS to offer an interdisciplinary forum to discuss the science of the materials used for electrical insulation in power transmission. With the advancement of technology, when integrated circuits became popular, the division became the Dielectrics and Insulation Division in 1965. In 1990, it became the Dielectric Science and Technology Division due to extensive growth in electronic manufacturing technology. Today, the division still provides a strong interdisciplinary research environment.

In this issue of Interface we have focused on some of the current topics that are an integral part of current and future technologies.

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By: Brian Nosek, Center for Open Science

JournalsIn the Fall of 2011, Sarah Mackenzie, the maid of honor at my wedding, was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. Sarah and her family were motivated to learn as much as they could about the disease to advocate for her care. They weren’t scientists, but they started searching the literature for relevant articles. One evening, Sarah called us, angry. Every time she found an article that might be relevant to understanding her disease, she ran into a paywall requiring $15-$40 to access it. Public money had paid for the research, yet she was barred from making any use of it. Luckily, she had us. Most people in Sarah’s position don’t have the luxury of friends at wealthy academic institutions with subscriptions to the literature.

During this time, I was pursuing an interest in the business models of scholarly communication. I wanted to understand the ways in which these models interfered with the dissemination of knowledge that could improve quality of life. Sarah’s experience illustrated one key part of the problem–the outcomes of research should be public goods, but the business models of publishing make them exclusive goods. Lack of access to published literature limits our ability to apply what we know to improving others’ quality of life. If doctors can’t access the literature, they can’t keep up with the latest innovations for care. If policy makers can’t access the literature, they can’t create evidence based policies. To advance solutions and cures, the outcomes of research must be open.

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ECS AMA: Post Your Questions Now!

ECS’s Ask Me Anything thread is officially live on /r/Science.

Use the link below to visit the thread and post your questions about open science, the Free the Science initiative, and the Society’s forthcoming preprint server, ECSarXiv.

Visit the AMA!

Please note: you will need a Reddit account in order to post questions, comment, or vote in the discussion. If you do not already have one, you can create a free account on Reddit’s website.

Revisit the thread later today, from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EST. During this time, ECS President Johna Leddy and ECS Transactions Editor Jeffrey Fergus will respond to questions that have been posted, prioritizing the ones that have received the most upvotes.

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Focus IssuesSubmit your manuscripts to the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES) Focus Issue on The Brain and Electrochemistry, Honoring R. Mark Wightman and Christian Amatore by March 11, 2018.

This focus issue of the JES is devoted to work at the juncture of electrochemistry, the brain, and the nervous system.

The issue will provide a forum for the discussion of research and developments on how the central (CNS) and the peripheral nervous systems (PNS) can be viewed and studied in terms of electrical circuits and electrochemical sensors, reactions and methods. This issue, as well as the The Brain and Electrochemistry symposium held at the 232nd ECS Meeting in October 2017, was inspired by the works of Christian Amatore from the Ecole Normale Supérieure and Mark Wightman from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They dedicated their careers to this topic, trained and influenced countless researchers over the years.

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Most Popular Articles of 2017

Year EndThe following is a roundup of the top articles published on the ECS Redcat Blog in 2017.

1. Impact factors on the rise

The journal impact factors for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology both rose by 8 percent this year. In July, Andrew Ryan, publication specialist at ECS, reported on the growth and what it means for ECS publications.

As a nonprofit society in constant competition with larger publishers with greater resources, ECS prides itself on disseminating the most groundbreaking and sought-after research to those who can use it to confront and resolve the world’s issues. This year’s JIF data indicates that ECS is not only doing its job, but steadily improving at it.

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BatteryNew research from Sandia National Laboratory is moving toward advancing solid state lithium-ion battery performance in small electronics by identifying major obstacles in how lithium ions flow across battery interfaces.

The team of researchers, including ECS member Forrest Gittleson, looked at the nanoscale chemistry of solid state batteries, focusing on the area where the electrodes and electrolytes make contact.

“The underlying goal of the work is to make solid-state batteries more efficient and to improve the interfaces between different materials,” says Farid El Gabaly, coauthor of the recently published work. “In this project, all of the materials are solid; we don’t have a liquid-solid interface like in traditional lithium-ion batteries.”

According to El Gabaly, the faster the lithium can travel from one electrode to the other, the more efficient the batteries could be.

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Carbon dioxide Scientists have found a way to make their asphalt-based sorbents better at capturing carbon dioxide from gas wells: Adding water.

The lab of chemist James Tour, a chair in chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice University, discovered that treating grains of inexpensive Gilsonite asphalt with water allows the material to adsorb more than two times its weight in the greenhouse gas. The treated asphalt selects carbon dioxide over valuable methane at a ratio of more than 200-to-1.

The material performs well at ambient temperatures and under the pressures typically found at wellheads. When the pressure abates, the material releases the carbon dioxide, which can then be stored, sold for other industrial uses, or pumped back downhole.

Natural gas at the wellhead typically contains between 3 and 7 percent carbon dioxide, but at some locations may contain up to 70 percent. Oil and gas producers traditionally use one of two strategies to sequester carbon dioxide: physically through the use of membranes or solid sorbents like zeolites or porous carbons, or chemically through filtering with liquid amine, a derivative of ammonia.

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Leah Ellis Student AwardEach year, the ECS Canada Section recognizes a deserving PhD student from a Canadian university for academic achievements in our multi-disciplinary fields though the Canada Section Student Award. The award was established in 1987 to recognize promising young engineers and scientists and to promote careers in electrochemistry and solid state science and technology. Recipients receive a $1,500 (CAD) prize.

Leah Ellis’ broad academic interests include surface analysis, materials science, and green chemistry. She obtained her Bachelor’s (2011) and Master’s (2013) degrees in chemistry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, studying alloy-based anode materials for sodium-ion batteries with Dr. Mark Obrovac. During this period, she was awarded an internship at Tesla’s research facility in Palo Alto, California.

Upon completion of her M.Sc., Leah spent one year as an intern at E-One Moli Energy in British Columbia, Canada, working on lithium-ion cell testing and development. Before commencing her PhD, she crossed the continent of Africa on a bicycle. Presently, Leah is completing her PhD, under the supervision of Dr. Jeff Dahn at Dalhousie University. Her research focuses on increasing the energy density, extending the lifetime, and reducing the cost of lithium-ion batteries, especially for automotive and grid storage applications.

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Transforming Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxideCarbon dioxide accounts for over 80 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. For many, carbon dioxide emissions account for significant environmental issues, but for researchers like Haotian Wang of Harvard University, carbon dioxide could be the perfect raw material.

According to a new study, Wang and his team are well on the way to developing a system that uses renewable electricity to electrochemically transform carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide could then be used in a host of industrial processes, such as plastics production, creating hydrocarbon products, or as a fuel itself.

This from Harvard University:

The energy conversion efficiency from sunlight to CO can be as high as 12.7%, more than one order of magnitude higher than natural photosynthesis.

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Carbon NanotubesThe introduction of purified carbon nanotubes appears to have a beneficial effect on the early growth of wheatgrass, according to scientists. But in the presence of contaminants, those same nanotubes could do great harm.

The Rice University lab of chemist Andrew Barron grew wheatgrass in a hydroponic garden to test the potential toxicity of nanoparticles on the plant. To their surprise, they found one type of particle dispersed in water helped the plant grow bigger and faster.

They suspect the results spring from nanotubes’ natural hydrophobic (water-avoiding) nature that in one experiment apparently facilitated the plants’ enhanced uptake of water.

The lab mounted the small-scale study with the knowledge that the industrial production of nanotubes will inevitably lead to their wider dispersal in the environment. The study cites rapid growth in the market for nanoparticles in drugs, cosmetics, fabrics, water filters, and military weapons, with thousands of tons produced annually.

Despite their widespread use, Barron says few researchers have looked at the impact of environmental nanoparticles—whether natural or human-made—on plant growth.

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