EditorThe open access movement has bolstered content dissemination worldwide, but it has also led to the rise of “predatory publishers.” Instead of prioritizing the quality of the content, predatory journals exist to take advantage of the pay-to-publish open access system, enforcing a lax or non-existent peer review system while charging authors processing fees to publish their work.

Researchers who are eager to publish – specifically early-career research – often get caught up in the predatory publisher cycle because they’re either unaware of the practices or have not verified a journal’s reputation.

A new investigation, spearheaded by Nature, found that dozens of academic journals have been recruiting fake editors and offering them a place on their editorial board.

To begin the investigation, Nature submitted a fake application for an editor position to 360 journals, ranging from legitimate titles to suspected predatory journals. Of the 360 journals, all of which were listed in either Journal Citation Reports (JRC), Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), or Beall’s list (possible predatory journals), 48 accepted the faux editor application.

The fictitious CV sent to publishers was that of Anna O. Szust (ozust being the polish word for fraud), featuring a slew of fake scientific degrees, credits on books that don’t exist, and not one legitimate citation to her name or any work indexed in the Web of Science or Scopus.

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Focus IssuesThis focus issue of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society is devoted to the mathematical modeling of electrochemical systems across multiple scales. Future advances in electrochemical systems will be greatly influenced by the need to design and control materials and processes using advanced simulation tools. Length scales in electrochemical applications can range from electronic to atomic to molecular to nanoscale to microscale to macroscale.

This issue, as well as regular symposia on multiscale modeling for electrochemical systems at ECS meetings, was majorly inspired by the work of Professor John Newman from the University of California-Berkeley. He dedicated his career to this topic, and he trained and influenced countless researchers on this topic over the years.

The deadline for submissions is April 2, 2017. Submit today!

All papers accepted for this focus issue will be published as open access at no cost to authors; the article processing charge (APC) will be waived.

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By: Joshua D. Rhodes, University of Texas at Austin

Renewable grideThe electric grid is an amazing integrated system of machines spanning an entire continent. The National Academy of Engineering has called it one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century. The Conversation

But it is also expensive. By my analysis, the current (depreciated) value of the U.S. electric grid, comprising power plants, wires, transformers and poles, is roughly US$1.5 to $2 trillion. To replace it would cost almost $5 trillion.

That means the U.S. electric infrastructure, which already contains trillions of dollars of sunk capital, will soon need significant ongoing investment just to keep things the way they are. A power plant built during the rapid expansion of the power sector in the decades after World War II is now 40 years old or older, long paid off, and likely needs to be replaced. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers just gave the entire energy infrastructure a barely passing grade of D+.

The current administration has vowed to invest heavily in infrastructure, which raises a number of questions with regard to the electric system: What should the energy grid of the future look like? How do we achieve a low-carbon energy supply? What will it cost?

Infrastructure seems to be an issue that can gather support from both sides of the aisle. But to make good decisions on spending, we need first to understand the value of the existing grid.

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By: Chenfeng Ke, Dartmouth College

Nanomachines are tiny molecules – more than 10,000 lined up side by side would be narrower than the diameter of a human hair – that can move when they receive an external stimulus. They can already deliver medication within a body and serve as computer memories at the microscopic level. But as machines go, they haven’t been able to do much physical work – until now. The Conversation

My lab has used nano-sized building blocks to design a smart material that can perform work at a macroscopic scale, visible to the eye. A 3-D-printed lattice cube made out of polymer can lift 15 times its own weight – the equivalent of a human being lifting a car.

Nobel-winning roots are rotaxanes

The design of our new material is based on Nobel Prize-winning research that turned mechanically interlocked molecules into work-performing machines at nanoscale – things like molecular elevators and nanocars.

Rotaxanes are one of the most widely investigated of these molecules. These dumbbell-shaped molecules are capable of converting input energy – in the forms of light, heat or altered pH – into molecular movements. That’s how these kinds of molecular structures got the nickname “nanomachines.”

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Every year on March 22, people around the globe celebrate World Water Day to advocate for improved access to clean water internationally. To date, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, leading to families spending countless hours retrieving water from distant sources or coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.

This year, the theme of World Water Day is “Wastewater.” According to the World Health Organization, over 80 percent of wastewater flows back into nature, polluting the environment and wasting what could be a recycled resource. By exploring wastewater and finding ways to safely manage and recycle it, a sustainable source of water, energy, and nutrients could be recovered.

Critical gaps in water and sanitation

For ECS members, wastewater treatment and efforts to improve access to clean water in the developing world is familiar territory.

In 2014, ECS partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish the first Science for Solving Society’s Problems challenge, leveraging the brainpower of scientists from around the world to create innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems in global water and sanitation.

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Corroded pipelinesFor many centuries, lead was the favored material for water pipes due to its malleability. However, the health hazards associated with ingesting lead were not fully understood until the late 1900s. Now, with a massive water infrastructure that utilizes lead pipes and instances of corrosion and leaching causing development and neurological effects in young children consuming tainted water, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis are researching the potential impact of replacing lead pipes.

According to the research team, digging up lead pipes to replace them with copper piping would not only be extremely expensive, but potentially dangerous. The team developed a new way to model and track where dislodged lead particles might be transported during the replacement process.

“We all know lead is not safe, it needs to go,” says Pratim Biswas, past ECS member and chair of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at the School of Engineering & Applied Science. “This is the first comprehensive model that works as a tool to help drinking-water utility companies and others to predict the outcome of an action. If they have the necessary information of a potential action, they can run this model and it can advise them on how best to proceed with a pipe replacement to ensure there are no adverse effects.”

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Carbon dioxideChemists have engineered a molecule that uses light or electricity to convert carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide—a carbon-neutral fuel source—more efficiently than any other method of “carbon reduction.”

“If you can create an efficient enough molecule for this reaction, it will produce energy that is free and storable in the form of fuels,” says study leader and Liang-shi Li, associate professor in the chemistry department at Indiana University Bloomington. “This study is a major leap in that direction.”

Burning fuel—such as carbon monoxide—produces carbon dioxide and releases energy. Turning carbon dioxide back into fuel requires at least the same amount of energy. A major goal among scientists has been decreasing the excess energy needed.

This is exactly what Li’s molecule achieves: requiring the least amount of energy reported thus far to drive the formation of carbon monoxide. The molecule—a nanographene-rhenium complex connected via an organic compound known as bipyridine—triggers a highly efficient reaction that converts carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.

The ability to efficiently and exclusively create carbon monoxide is significant due to the molecule’s versatility.

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Free Content, Free the Science

ECS at 115
We are fast approaching the exact date of our 115th anniversary. On April 2, 1902, the American Electrochemical Society (as ECS was called in the beginning) held its first meeting in Philadelphia. In the transactions of the first meeting, President Joseph Richard’s wrote:

Such is the force, the necessary condition, which has brought into existence The American Electrochemical Society… being, therefore, a necessity, a pressing need, its formation was inevitable… The results having justified the insight of the projectors of the society, the first meeting has been an enthusiastic success, the organization now exists, its future assured of usefulness. With confidence we stand out to sea.

Today, we feel the same “necessary condition” and “pressing need” for inevitable change. This time, however, our goal is to change our publishing business model to completely open the ECS Digital Library while maintaining our high standards of peer review and adapting new technologies and principles related to open science.

We believe that we have an imperative to implement Free the Science, both from a research standpoint—our sciences have broad implications for human and environmental sustainability—and from a scholarly communication perspective—we believe everyone should have the same access to share and acquire knowledge. With open access and open research receiving such a crescendo of support from governments, funders, advocates, and scientists, we believe that ECS can provide leadership in the impending publishing revolution.

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BatteryReports of a woman’s headphones catching fire while on a flight from Bejing to Melbourne has once again heightened interest in lithium-ion battery safety. According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the incident occurred while the woman was sleeping mid-flight wearing battery-powered headphones.

Early in 2016, battery expert and ECS fellow, K.M. Abraham, talked to ECS about lithium-ion battery safety concerns amidst reports of exploding hoverboards. Below are some excerpts of what he had to say.

“It is safe to say that these well-publicized hazardous events are rooted in the uncontrolled release of the large amount of energy stored in lithium-ion batteries as a result of manufacturing defects, inferior active and inactive materials used to build cells and battery packs, substandard manufacturing and quality control practices by a small fraction of cell manufacturers, and user abuses of overcharge and over-discharge, short-circuit, external thermal shocks and violent mechanical impacts,” Abraham told ECS. “All of these mistreatments can lead lithium-ion batteries to thermal runaway reactions accompanied by the release of hot combustible organic solvents which catch fire upon contact with oxygen in the atmosphere.”

Read Abraham’s full article.

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Sensors have become intertwined with our everyday life. From the cars to phones to medical devices, sensors are embedded in many of the technologies we consistently use.

However, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers, which measure the rate of change in an object’s speed, can be tricked, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

This from the University of Michigan:

Researchers used precisely tuned acoustic tones to deceive 15 different models of accelerometers into registering movement that never occurred. The approach served as a backdoor into the devices—enabling the researchers to control other aspects of the system.

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