AA Battery CarThere may soon be a shift in the transportation sector, where traditional fossil fuel-powered vehicles become a thing of the past and electric vehicles start on their rise to dominance.

In fact, we may be seeing that shift already. Last year, battery prices fell 35 percent, which contributed to the 60 percent increase in sales of electric vehicles. If that growth continues along the same path, electric vehicles have the potential to displace oil demand of two million barrels a day as early as 2023.

The key technology at the heart of these vehicles is energy storage. Whether it be the lithium-ion, lithium-air, or fuel cells – electric vehicles depend on affordable, highly efficient electrochemical energy storage to operate.

But what if the future of these vehicles depend on a different type of energy technology?

Saturday Night Live recently made a play on the future of electric vehicles by imagining a world where cars didn’t run off of a singular, efficient battery — but rather tons of AA batteries.

Check out what a car powered entirely out of AA batteries could look like.

Open access continues to gain momentum globally

openaccessroundGlobally, open access can help create a world where everyone from the student in Atlanta to a researcher in Haiti can freely read the scientific papers they need to make a discovery; where scientific breakthroughs in energy conversion, sensors, or nanotechnology are unimpeded by fees to access or publish research.

The global open access effort aims to break down barriers and make online scholarly information free to everyone, promote the global exchange of scientific discoveries, and open the door to the faster development of practical applications that could address some of the world’s most pressing issues.

(READ: “Robert Savinell on Preserving Scientific Research“)

Accelerating discovery in Africa

Recently, Senegal started building this framework for African countries that often lack access to scientific and education information. During April’s Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, representatives from the west-African country decided to begin the process to ensure the establishment of a national open access policy, making them the first African country to establish such a policy.

Leaders hope this new policy will encourage the creation of open platforms free and accessible for all researchers, innovators, teachers, students, media professionals, and the public and will encourage collaboration, production, dissemination, and knowledge economies.

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HIV and hepatitis C are among the leading causes of worldwide death. According to amfAR, an organization dedicated to eradicating the spread of HIV/AIDS through innovative research, nearly 37 million people are currently living with HIV. Of those 37 million, one third become co-infected with hepatitis C.

The threat of HIV and hepatitis C

The regions hit the hardest by this co-infection tend to be developing parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa and Central and East Asia.

While these developing regions have measures to diagnosis HIV and hepatitis C, the rapid point-of-care tests used are typically unaffordable or unreliable.

An electrochemical solution

A group from McGill University is looking to change that with a recently developed, paper-based electrochemical platform with multiplexing and telemedicine capabilities that may enable low-cost, point-of-care diagnosis for HIV and hepatitis C co-infections within serum samples.

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ECS is sponsoring the 11th European Space Power Conference, taking place October 3-7, 2016 in Thessaloniki, Greece. The conference, which will focus on electrical power for space applications and cutting-edge research on topics for terrestrial applicators, is currently open for potential presenters to submit their papers.

Following several issues, some related to browsers compatibility and companies systems configuration, we know that some authors were not able to upload their digest. In addition, some digests have not been submitted in the appropriate format as per instructions, being an abstract instead of a digest.

In view of these issues, the ESPC2016 committee has decided to re-open a window: from Friday 22/04/2016 18:00 CET till Monday 25/04/2016 12:00 CET.

Upload your digest before April 22, 2016!

The conference is intended to cover the three main topics of: power generation with solar generators and other types of sources, such as nuclear or electrochemical; energy storage, including batteries and regenerative fuel cells; and power management and distribution, a wide domain covering every level of integration from electrical parts to power subsystem architectures.

If you are not able to login to ESPC2016 digest submission website, the ESPC2016 committee recommends to use another browser.

Learn more about the conference and email espc2016-conference@esa.int for questions or support.

Antalexion

Image: Antalexion

With the increasing popularity of solar power and ongoing dialogue about the effects of climate changes comes inevitable discussions about the viability of renewable energy. While efficiency levels have grown tremendously over the years, many still worry about the feasibility of solar panels during inclement weather when the sun is not shining its brightest.

To address that issue, more attention has been focused on energy storage. However, a group of Chinese scientists are turning to the solar panels themselves to answer some of these questions.

In a recently published paper, scientist detailed a new way for solar panels to produce electricity from rain water. The way it works is pretty simple: researchers apply a thin layer of graphene to the bottom of the solar panel; when it rains, you simply flip the panel and allow the positively charged ions from the rain drops to interact with the graphene and produce electricity.

“Although great achievements have been made since the discovery of various solar cells, there is still a remaining problem that the currently known solar cells can only be excited by sunlight on sunny days,” wrote the researchers in the paper.

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Carbyne

Image: Lei Shi/Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna

The material Carbyne hit the benchtop years ago. Scientists were able to calculate the properties of this exotic material, but not able to stabilize it. Carbyne promised to be stronger and stiffer than any other material known to man, but the question of how to synthesize it remained.

Now, researchers from the University of Vienna in Austria were able to do just that. The researchers took the highly reactive, one-dimensional chain of carbon atoms and synthesized it by wrapping it in a double-walled tube of graphene that provided a protective casing, allowing the material to remain intact.

This from Gizmodo:

The record for stringing together carbon atoms like this in the past had been 100 in a row; now, the team can put 6,400 atoms together, and have them remain in a chain for as long as they want. That is, of course, as long as they sit inside the carbon Thermos. It remains to be seen how useful Carbyne will be whilst wrapped up, but for now it’s the best that researchers can achieve.

Read the full article.

While not much is known about Carbyne, the material is believed to be stronger than both graphene and diamonds, and twice the stiffness of any known material. Maybe (just maybe) this could bring us one step closer to space elevators.

Artificial limbs have experience tremendous evolution in their long history. Throughout history, we’ve gone from the peg leg of the Dark Ages to technologically advanced modern day prosthesis that mimic the function of a natural limb. However, most prosthesis still lack a sense of touch.

Zhenan Bao, past ECS member and chemical engineer at Stanford University, is at the forefront of the research looking to change that.

(MORE: Read Bao’s past meeting abstracts in the ECS Digital Library for free.)

Recently on NPR’s All Things Considered, Bao described her work in developing a plastic artificial skin that can essentially do all the things organic skin can do, including sensing and self-healing.


The self-healing plastic Bao uses mimics the electrical properties of silicon and contains a nano-scale pressure sensor. The sensor is then connected to electrical circuits that connect to the brain, transmitting the pressure to the brain to analyze as feeling.

Additionally, the skin is set to be powered by polymers that can turn light into electricity.

While there is still much work to be done, Bao and her colleagues believe that this product could help people who have lost their limbs regain their sense of touch.

Graphene’s potential seems limitless. From to patches that monitor glucose and inject treatment to water-splitting capabilities, the popularly proclaimed “wonder material” is finding a home in a host of applications. However, graphene has yet to make it wide-spread, commercial applications.

To help take graphene from the lab to society, the Graphene Flagship has been formed as a European initiative promoting collaborative research on the up-and-coming material. Recently, the initiative published a paper detailing the possibility of creating light-responsive graphene-based devices that could be applied to anything from photo-sensors to optically controllable memories.

(MORE: Listen to our podcast with nanocarbons expert Bruce Weiseman, where we talk graphene, fullerenes, and all things nano.)

This from Graphene Flagship:

The work shows how, by combining molecules capable of changing their conformation as a result of light irradiation with graphite powder, one can produce concentrated graphene inks by liquid phase exfoliation. These graphene inks can then be used to make devices which, when exposed to UV and visible light, are capable of photo-switching current in a reversible fashion.

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The iconic Moore’s law has predicted the technological growth of the chip industry for more than 50 years. When ECS member and co-founder of Intel Gordon Moore proposed the law, he stated that the number of transistors on a chip would double every two years. So far, he’s been correct.

But researchers have started hitting an apex that makes keeping the pace of Moore’s law extremely difficult. It has become harder in recent years to make transistors smaller while simultaneously increasing the processing power of chips, making it almost impossible to continue Moore’s law’s projected growth.

However, researchers from MIT have developed a long-awaited tool that may be able to keep driving that progress.

(READ: “Moore’s Law and the Future of Solid-State Electronics“)

The new technology that hopes to keep Moore’s law going at its current pace is called extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. Industry leaders say it could be used in high-volume chip manufacturing as early as 2018, allowing continued growth in the semiconductor industry, with advancements in our mobile phones, wearable electronics, and many other gadgets.

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ECS Tellers of Election

According to Wikipedia, a teller of an election is “a person who counts the votes in an election, vote, referendum, or poll.” The ECS Tellers of Election recently met to do just that: verify our 2016 Society Elections.

Tellers of the Election

ECS Tellers of Election as they verify the 2016 Society votes – from left, Prof. Craig B. Arnold, Dr. Ronald E. Enstrom, Mr. Norman Goldsmith and Dr. William M. Ayers.

Let’s backtrack a moment where we must first and foremost thank members of ECS for voting this year. Our second thoughts of appreciation go to the wonderful slate of candidates who are not only recognized professionals in their own areas of the sciences, but are dedicated enough to vie for ECS leadership. Thank you very much to Drs. Christina Bock and Thomas Moffat for considering the Vice President opportunity. Four years ago, Dr. Krishnan Rajeshwar was in this race to become an ECS Vice President which allowed him to now be on the ballot for the organization’s President. We extend similar appreciation to Drs. James Fenton and Douglas Hansen for competing for the role of Secretary.

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