By: Kevin Smith, In the Open

Open AccessRecently there has been a spate of comment expressing frustration about the allegedly slow progress of open access, and especially Green open access. It is hard to disagree with some of this sentiment, but it is important that frustration not lead us into trying to solve a problem with a worse solution. The key, I believe, to making real advances in open access is to walk away from the commercial publishers who have dominated the market for scholarship. Only if we do that can libraries free up money from our collection budgets to do truly new things. A new business model with the same old players, even if it were possible, would be a mistake.

The most articulate call for an open access future for scholarship – the Budapest Open Access Initiative — was issued fifteen years ago, in February 2002. There is no one better qualified to speak about the meaning of that declaration today than Professor Jean-Claude Guédon, who signed the original Budapest statement and last month published a brilliant and compelling article about where we are and where we need to go next in the movement toward open access scholarship.

Guédon covers a lot of ground in his article “Open Access: Toward the Internet of the Mind.” I want to focus on two points, one I think of as a warning and the other a signpost.


According to a new report by IBM, consumers are taking cybersecurity issues seriously, with 56 percent stating that security and privacy will be a key factor in future vehicle purchasing decisions. This is leading automakers to take a hard look at potential points of exploitation, suspicious behavior, and response systems.

As technology advances, cars are becoming much more than just a mode of transportation. Stocked with sensors and computers, your vehicle acts as a kind of moving data center. With the rise of the Internet of Things, car technology is also being integrated with outside devices. While this seamless experience is beneficial in many ways for consumers, it also opens up vulnerabilities in technologies capable of being compromised and hacked.


Fuel CellResearchers from Purdue University are making headway on solving issues in electrolyzers and fuel cell development by gaining new insight into electrocatalysts.

Electrocatalysts are key in promoting the chemical reactions that happen in both fuel cells and electrolyzers. However, while activating theses chemical reactions is crucial, the electrocatalysts tend to be unstable and can corrode when used in fuel cells and electrolyzers.

ECS member Jeffrey Greeley is looking to address this issue by identifying the structure for an active, stable electrocatalyst made of nickel nanoislands deposited on platinum.

“The reactions led to very stable structures that we would not predict by just looking at the properties of nickel,” Greeley says. “It turned out to be quite a surprise.”


Assuming that the deployment of carbon removal technology will outpace emissions and conquer global climate change is a poor substitute for taking action now, say researchers.

With the current pace of renewable energy deployment and emissions reductions efforts, the world is unlikely to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This trend puts in doubt efforts to keep climate change damages from sea level rise, heat waves, drought, and flooding in check. Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, also known as “negative emissions,” has been thought of as a potential method of fighting climate change.

In their new perspective published in the journal Science, however, researchers from Stanford University explain the risks of assuming carbon removal technologies can be deployed at a massive scale relatively quickly with low costs and limited side effects—with the future of the planet at stake.

“For any temperature limit, we’ve got a finite budget of how much heat-trapping gases we can put into the atmosphere. Relying on big future deployments of carbon removal technologies is like eating lots of dessert today, with great hopes for liposuction tomorrow,” says Chris Field, professor of biology and of earth system science and director of Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment.


Sharing the Science

Free the Science Week

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In April 2017, ECS celebrated its first annual Free the Science Week, giving the world a preview of what complete open access to peer-reviewed scientific research will look like.

Free the Science Week is part of ECS’s long-term Free the Science initiative, which will provide free access to the peer-reviewed research in the entire ECS Digital Library, not just for a week, but permanently.

Here are just a few insights from the week:


The 231st ECS Meeting took place last week in New Orleans, LA, where Way Kuo, president at City University of Hong Kong, delivered the ECS Lecture, “A Risk Look at Energy Development.” In his talk, Kuo highlighted the many risks we face every day, ranging from air pollution to auto accidents to cyber-attacks. While those risks exist, Kuo pointed out that the biggest risk today is energy and energy safety, including issues of energy consumption, global warming, and sustainability.

“Renewable energies have witnessed rapid development in recent years worldwide in a concerted effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions,” Kuo wrote in his meeting abstract. “And yet, wind power production still constitutes only 4% in the global power mix and solar PV represents 1%, while fossil fuels remain the world’s dominant energy source, accounting for around 65%. Coal, the main culprit for greenhouse gas emissions, represents 43% of fossil fuels, even though the coal-fired generation share of total electricity production is declining, and still causes 7 million death a year due to air pollution, according to the United Nations. Any discussion of energies today cannot neglect nuclear energy as a key base-load power, despite concerns about possible radiation leaks and nuclear waste.”

Recently, Kuo wrote an article in the South China Morning Post, where he discussed the importance of properly capturing and analyzing scientific data, which will improve our ability to predict and respond to disasters. The article, which was adapted from Kuo’s ECS Lecture, analyzes security issues related to everything from terrorism to foodborne illness.


General Student Poster Session winners (L-R):1st place, Sanjana Das and Stephanie Silic (not pictured) from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. 2nd place, Katrina Vuong and Laurie Clare (not pictured) from San Diego State University. Two 3rd place winners. Josie Duncan and Mary Heustess (not picture) from Clemson University and Phuong Tu Mai from Osaka Prefecture University. Honorable mention, Emily Gullette, Natalie Handson (not pictured), Emily Klutz (not pictured), and Meredith Hammer from Clemson.
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It is with great pride that ECS honors the winners of the General Student Poster Session Awards for the 231st ECS Meeting in New Orleans, LA.

ECS established the General Student Poster Session Awards in 1993 to acknowledge the eminence of its students’ work. The winners exhibit a profound understanding of their research topic and its relation to fields of interest to ECS.

In order to be eligible for the General Student Poster Session Awards, students must submit their abstracts to the Z01 General Society Student Poster Session symposium and present their posters at the biannual meeting. First and second place winners receive a certificate in addition to a cash award.

The winners of the General Student Poster Session Awards for the 231st ECS Meeting are as follows:

1st Place
Name: Sanjana Das and Stephanie Silic
Institution: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Poster Number: 2015
Poster Title: Nanotechnology for Water-Less Cleaning of Solar Panels

2nd Place
Name: Katrina Vuong and Laurie Clare
Institution: San Diego State University
Poster Number: 2021
Poster Title: Effect of Added Bases on the Redox-Responsive Dimerization of a 4 H-Bond Array Containing a Phenylenediamine Redox Couple


By: Peter Byrley, University of California, Riverside

A smartphone touchscreen is an impressive piece of technology. It displays information and responds to a user’s touch. But as many people know, it’s easy to break key elements of the transparent, electrically conductive layers that make up even the sturdiest rigid touchscreen. If flexible smartphones, e-paper and a new generation of smart watches are to succeed, they can’t use existing touchscreen technology.

We’ll need to invent something new – something flexible and durable, in addition to being clear, lightweight, electrically responsive and inexpensive. Many researchers are pursuing potential options. As a graduate researcher at the University of California, Riverside, I’m part of a research group working to solve this challenge by weaving mesh layers out of microscopic strands of metal – building what we call metal nanowire networks.

These could form key components of new display systems; they could also make existing smartphones’ touchscreens even faster and easier to use.

The problem with indium tin oxide

A standard smartphone touchscreen has glass on the outside, on top of two layers of conductive material called indium tin oxide. These layers are very thin, transparent to light and conduct small amounts of electrical current. The display lies underneath.

When a person touches the screen, the pressure of their finger bends the glass very slightly, pushing the two layers of indium tin oxide closer together. In resistive touchscreens, that changes the electrical resistance of the layers; in capacitive touchscreens, the pressure creates an electrical circuit.


powerPADIn its first “Science for Solving Society’s Problems Challenge,” ECS partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to leverage the brainpower of the many scientists in electrochemistry and solid state science and technology that regularly attend ECS meetings. From this project, seven presentations were selected, with a total of $360,000 awarded to pursue research projects addressing world sanitation problems.

The powerPAD, a collaboration among Neus Sabaté, Juan Pablo Esquivel, and Erik Kjeang, was one of the projects selected to receive $50,000 in funding. Now, just over two years later, the researchers are discussing their findings and how their work has transformed over time.

“As originally proposed, the developed battery is completely made of organic materials such as cellulose, carbon electrodes, beeswax and organic redox species, and can be fabricated by affordable methods with low energy consumption,” Esquivel told ECS in an email. “After it’s used, the battery can be disposed of in an organic waste container or even discarded in the field, because it biodegrades by the action of microorganisms present in soils and water bodies. In the article we have shown that this biodegradable battery can substitute for a Li-ion coin cell battery to run a portable water monitoring device. The battery is activated upon the addition of a drop of the same water sample that is analyzed.”


Periodic TableUsing high pressure, scientists have created the first high-entropy metal alloy made of common metals to have a hexagonal close-packed (HCP) atomic structure.

This makes it lighter and stronger than comparable metal alloys with different structures.

Traditional alloys typically consist of one or two dominant metals with a pinch of other metals or elements thrown in. Classic examples include adding tin to copper to make bronze, or carbon to iron to create steel.

In contrast, “high-entropy” alloys consist of multiple metals mixed in approximately equal amounts. The result is stronger and lighter alloys that are more resistant to heat, corrosion, and radiation, and that might even possess unique mechanical, magnetic, or electrical properties.

Despite significant interest from material scientists, high-entropy alloys have yet to make the leap from the lab to actual products. One major reason is that scientists haven’t yet figured out how to precisely control the arrangement, or packing structure, of the constituent atoms.