By: Ellen Finnie, In the Open

Free the ScienceThe Electrochemical Society, a small nonprofit scholarly society founded in 1902, has an important message for all of us who are concerned about access to science. Mary Yess, deputy executive director and chief content officer and publisher, could not be clearer about the increased urgency of ECS’ path: “We have got to move towards an open science environment. It has never been more important – especially in light of the recently announced ‘gag orders’ on several U.S. government agencies– to actively promote the principles of open science.” What they committed to in 2013 as an important open access initiative has become, against the current political backdrop, truly a quest to “free the science.”

ECS’s Free the Science program is designed to accelerate the ability of the research ECS publishes — for example, in sustainable clean energy, clean water, climate science, food safety, and medical care — to generate solutions to our planet’s biggest problems. It is a simple and yet powerful proposition, as ECS frames it:

“We believe that if this research were openly available to anyone who wished to read it, anywhere it the world, it would contribute to faster problem solving and technology development, accelerate the pace of scientific discovery, encourage innovation, enrich education, and even stimulate the economy.”

How this small society — which currently publishes just two journals — came to this conclusion, and how they plan to move to an entirely open access future, is, I believe, broadly instructive at a time when our political environment has only one solid state: uncertainty.

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The “queen of carbon science,” Mildred Dresselhaus, has passed away at the age of 86.

Dresselhaus was a recipient of both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Science, solidifying her role as a leader in the scientific community and an advocate for women in STEM.

Among her scientific contributions, Dresselhaus is perhaps most known for playing a key role in unlocking the mysteries of carbon. Her contributions to fundamental research in the electronic structure of semi-materials and initial insight into fullerenes have made an extensive impact on the scientific community.

“We lost a giant — an exceptionally creative scientist and engineer who was also a delightful human being,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif wrote in a statement. “Among her many ‘firsts,’ in 1968, Millie became the first woman at MIT to attain the rank of full, tenured professor. She was the first solo recipient of a Kavli Prize and the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering.”

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With the March for Science coming up in April, scientists are debating the pros and cons of getting political.

A new story from NPR explores the nuances of politicizing science, with some scientists supporting the upcoming march to protect science from potential governmental threats, while others believe the March for Science will damage scientists’’ reputations and unbiased.

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Do You Know Your ECS History?

ECS at 115

The Electrochemical Society was founded 115 years ago as the American Electrochemical Society. That’s based on the inaugural meeting held April 3-5, 1902 in Philadelphia, PA. Twenty papers were presented and recorded in Transactions of the American Electrochemical Society, Vol. 1, No. 1.

You could say the Society was born out of the indifference of what was known at the time as the Council of the American Chemical Society. Around this time, ACS took no action on a proposal to form an electrochemical section or division. That led Joseph Richards, the first president of the Society, to write in the inaugural Transactions:

“The day is past, we all acknowledge, when one man, even be he Newton, can know all that is to be known … the day is passing when any one society can even cover satisfactorily the whole field of any one science …”

Meeting for organization

And so in November of 1901 about 30 engineers, chemists, and scientists were invited by letter to attend “the meeting for organization” where they would create an organization:

“Its functions should be those of bringing electrochemists into personal contact with each other; of disseminating among them all the information known to, and which can be spared by, their co-workers; to stimulate original thought in these lines by mutual interchange of experience, and by papers and discussions; to stimulate electrochemical work all over the world by publishing the news of what is being done here in America.”

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New Options for Grid Energy Storage

Energy storageResearchers from Oregon State university have developed the first battery that uses only hydronium ions as the charge carrier, which the team believes could yield promising results for the future of sustainable energy storage.

Particularly, the researchers are interested in the area of stationary storage. This type of energy storage primarily refers to on-grid storage to harness power from intermittent sources, such as wind or solar, for later use in general distribution. Stationary energy storage is vital for the energy landscape to transition to more renewable types of energy because it will allow the electrical grid to continue to function when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing.

This from Oregon State University:

Hydronium, also known as H3O+, is a positively charged ion produced when a proton is added to a water molecule. Researchers in the OSU College of Science have demonstrated that hydronium ions can be reversibly stored in an electrode material consisting of perylenetetracarboxylic dianhydridem, or PTCDA.

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Battery

Source: iStock

Today’s electronics consumers all have one thing in common: a desire for smartphones and other portable devices to have longer battery lives. Researchers from the University College Cork are looking to deliver just that with a new development that extends the cycle life of the lithium-ion battery to near record-length by using a key ingredient found in sunscreen.

The method, developed by ECS member and vice chair of the Society’s Electronics and Photonics Division, Colm O’Dwyer, and past members David McNulty and Elaine Carroll, uses titanium dioxide, which is a naturally occurring material capable of absorbing ultraviolet light.

When titanium dioxide is made into a porous substance, it can be charged and discharged over 5,000 times – or 13.5 years – without a drop in capacity.

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Alice SuroviecAlice Suroviec is an associate professor at Berry College, where she focuses her research efforts on the development of microelectrodes and applications of electrochemistry to real-time detection of biological analytes in aqueous solutions. Suroviec has recently been appointed to the ECS Electrochemical Science & Technology Editorial Board as an associate editor for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES).

The Electrochemical Society: What do you hope to accomplish in your role as associate editor?

Alice Suroviec: I hope to make a stronger connection between the excellent work being presented at ECS meetings and JES. I would like to see that JES becomes a go-to journal for publishing the best work in our field. That we will be able to provide excellent peer-reviews in a timely manner and that the process is successful for both the authors and the reviewers.

ECS: How important is the peer review process in scholarly publications?

AS: The peer review process is critical to the process of disseminating scientific work. The sciences are by nature a team process. In the lab we work with other team members to produce novel research. The peer review process is an extension of that, where other experts in the author’s area weigh in to produce the best paper possible. Peer review in JES also provides a quality control so the readers of the journal know that they are reading reputable results.

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Supporting Science and Scientists

ECS at 115

“The Society could not help but to come into existence.”
– Joseph Richards, 1st ECS president

This spring, The Electrochemical Society will be 115 years old.

A 115th anniversary is not a milestone that normally warrants celebration but today, more than ever, we need to support science, scientists, and the core values that make our community strong.

For over a century ECS has adhered to the principles expressed by Joseph Richards, the Society’s first president, in the Transactions introduction from the Society’s first meeting:

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CellphoneA new paper published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, “Mixed Conduction Membranes Suppress the Polysulfide Shuttle in Lithium-Sulfur Batteries,” describes a new battery membrane that makes the cycle life of lithium-sulfur batteries comparable to their lithium-ion counterparts.

The research, led by ECS Fellow Sri Narayan, offers a potential solution to one of the biggest barriers facing next generation batteries: how to create a tiny battery that packs a huge punch.

Narayan and Derek Moy, co-author of the paper, believe that lithium-sulfur batteries could be the answer.

The lithium-sulfur battery has been praised for its high energy storage capacity, but hast struggled in competing with the lithium-ion battery when it comes to cycle life. To put it in perspective, a lithium-sulfur battery can be charged between 50 and 100 times; a lithium-ion battery lasts upwards of 1,200 cycles.

To address this issue, the researchers devised the “Mixed Conduction Membrane” (MCM).

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By: Mike Williams, Rice University

GrapheneA new type of conductive graphene foam is incredibly tough and can be formed into just about any shape and size.

A chunk of the foam, which is reinforced by carbon nanotubes, can support more than 3,000 times its own weight and easily bounce back to its original height.

The Rice University lab of chemist James Tour tested this new “rebar graphene” as a highly porous, conductive electrode in lithium ion capacitors and found it to be mechanically and chemically stable. The results appear in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Carbon in the form of atom-thin graphene is among the strongest materials known and is highly conductive; multiwalled carbon nanotubes are widely used as conductive reinforcements in metals, polymers and carbon matrix composites. The Tour lab had already used nanotubes to reinforce two-dimensional sheets of graphene. Extending the concept to macroscale materials made sense, says Tour, a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering.

“We developed graphene foam, but it wasn’t tough enough for the kind of applications we had in mind, so using carbon nanotubes to reinforce it was a natural next step,” Tour adds.

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