Teaching Bacterium a New Trick

Scientists are teaching old bacterium some new tricks in an effort to advance artificial photosynthesis.

The bacterium Moorella thermoacetica has been trained to perform photosynthesis, even though it is non-photosynthetic. All of this comes with a push to convert sunlight into valuable chemical products for a cleaner, greener energy future.

“We’ve demonstrated the first self-photosensitization of a non-photosynthetic bacterium, M. thermoacetica, with cadmium sulfide nanoparticles to produce acetic acid from carbon dioxide at efficiencies and yield that are comparable to or may even exceed the capabilities of natural photosynthesis,” says Peidong Yang, lead researcher of this work.

Previously, Yang’s work has centered around the development of the artificial “leaf,” which aims to produce natural gas from carbon dioxide. This extension of that work is still in line with the development of a clean energy future.

(MORE: Read more of Yang’s research in the ECS Digital Library.)

“In our latest study, we combined the highly efficient light harvesting of an inorganic semiconductor with the high specificity, low cost, and self-replication and self-repair of a biocatalyst,” Yang says. “By inducing the self-photosensitization of M. thermoacetica with cadmium sulfide nanoparticles, we enabled the photosynthesis of acetic acid from carbon dioxide over several days of light-dark cycles at relatively high quantum yields, demonstrating a self-replicating route toward solar-to-chemical carbon dioxide reduction.”

IMLB Abstracts Due

IMLB_2016_4CDon’t miss your chance to participate in IMLB 2016! This international meeting will provide an exciting forum to discuss recent progress in advanced lithium batteries for energy storage and conversion.

IMLB focuses on both basic and applied research findings that have led to improved Li battery materials, and to the understanding of the fundamental processes that determine and control electrochemical performance. A major (but not exclusive) theme of the meeting will address recent advances in beyond lithium-ion technologies. The meeting will cover a wide range of topics relating to lithium battery science and technology including, but not limited to:

  • General and national projects
  • Anodes and cathodes
  • Nanostructured materials for lithium batteries
  • Liquid electrolytes and ionic liquids
  • Polymer, gel, and solid electrolytes
  • Issues related to sources and availability of materials for Li batteries
  • Li battery recycling
  • Electrode/electrolyte interface phenomena
  • Safety, reliability, cell design and engineering
  • Monitoring, control and validation systems
  • Manufacturing and formation techniques
  • Primary and rechargeable Li cells
  • Industrial production and development for HEVs, PHEVs, and EVs
  • Latest developments in Li battery technology

Make sure to submit your abstract before January 15, 2016!

See you in Chicago!

Understanding Corrosion from Nano to Macro

From oil pipeline breaks to leaks in chemical plants, corrosion is one of the most damaging and costly naturally occurring events seen today. In order to better understand and prevent to corrosion process, John Scully, ECS member since and 2016 winner of the Society’s Linford Award, has teamed up with a multidisciplinary team to understand corrosion from the nano to the macroscale.

A new Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) has emerged with the mission of preventing corrosion. Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, the ultimate goal of the project is to understand, predict, and control the role of minor elements on the early stages of corrosion in metal alloys.

At its core, corrosion is the degradation of materials due to electrochemical reactions with the environment. In addition to yielding safety issues, corrosion costs an expected $23 billion annually, according to the Department of Defense.

Not only can corrosion cause buildings and bridges to collapse, but corrosion o electrical outlets and medical implants can cause fires and blood poisoning.

In order to address this complex problems, Scully and others are creating a team comprised of those versed in electrochemistry, microscopy, tomography, and simulations.

penn-state-materialA new material developed at Penn State could mean big things for everything from smartphones to solar cells.

For over 60 years, the main material used in transparent conductor display has been indium tin oxide. With over 90 percent of the display market utilizing this material, it has left very little room for competitor materials.

While indium tin oxide has provided solid efficiency levels at a decent price point for the past half decades, expenses have recently skyrocketed on this material.

Current electronic devices, such as smart phones and tables, are primarily priced according to display material costs. Displays and touch screen modules make up 40 percent of the cost to produce a device, greatly outpacing other essential pieces such as chips and processors. It hasn’t been until now that researchers have found a material that could potential replace indium tin oxide and potentially reduce device costs.

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Observing a Chemical Reaction

In order to improve upon existing technology, researchers typically take a deeper look into current generation models to get a deeper understanding of everything that is happening on the small-scale. Answering questions as to why something happens or when it happens could allow researchers to make current technology more efficient.

One of the things that researchers have been working to more fully understand for some time now is that of a chemical reaction. For the first time ever, researchers from MIT have observed the exact moment when a chemical reaction occurs between two substances. From this, the researchers were able to measure the energy of the transition state—something that was previously thought impossible due to the complexity of chemical reactions.

“Your reactants and products are stable valleys on either side of a mountain range, and the transition state is the pass,” said Josh Baraban, lead author of the study. “It’s the most convenient way to get from one to the other. Because it only exists as you go from as one thing to another, it’s never really been thought of as something that you can easily study directly.”

This from IFL Science:

The team studied a chemical process called isomerization. In this reaction, one molecule is transformed into another molecule that has the same atoms but they are arranged in a different way. The researchers looked at acetylene, a molecule formed by two carbon atoms bound to each other, and each bound to a hydrogen atom.

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Interning with The Electrochemical Society

Amanda Squicciarini, Membership Services intern.

Amanda Squicciarini, Membership Services intern.

My name is Amanda Squicciarini and I have been interning at The Electrochemical Society since this past September with Beth Fisher in Membership Services. I am a junior at The College of New Jersey, located just up the road from ECS’s Pennington, NJ headquarters where I am studying marketing and communications.

You have probably seen a couple of my blog posts, like 2015 ECS Outstanding Student Chapter or 5 Ways to Expand Your Student Chapter (if not, make sure you go check them out!). This was my first experience with Word Press and blogging in general, so it was exciting to see my work published on this blog that has 15,000 page views per month. Blogging was only one of the many learning opportunities I have had at ECS over the past four months. I was also responsible for creating student chapter newsletters, and processing their reimbursements. If you are a student chapter officer, you have probably received quite a few emails from me!

As you probably already know, ECS holds bi-annual meetings every spring and fall in places anywhere from Boston, MA, USA to Cancun, Mexico. During my internship, I was able to observe the behind the scenes hard work and hours of planning that goes into these meetings months before they actually happen. My internship had just begun a few weeks before the fall meeting, and I was able to see how much work needed to be done in order for the meeting to be successful. I felt that this was a special experience to be able to see an event of that magnitude being prepped and planned for (over 2,000 people from 46 different countries attended the 228th ECS Meeting in Phoenix, AZ, USA this fall!). I even got to help by packing registration supplies, creating signs and making sure that the fellows were listed to be given their ribbons. Then after everyone returned from the meeting, I was in charge of organizing the data from the short courses to see if there were any ways to improve them for the next biannual meeting.

This internship was also my first experience in the non-profit sector. It was a great learning opportunity to be able to see how a non-profit functions. In addition, the history being endless within the society really appealed to the history buff in me. A task of mine was to scan in old files (as far back as 1903) so that the historic information is not lost when the papers are eventually recycled. Although this may seem like a very “typical” intern task, this task was essential due to the fact that members of ECS have been changing the world with their research for over 100 years. You may have heard of a guy named Thomas Edison… he was a member of ECS and I would say he changed the world! And hey, it’s pretty neat to be handling papers that are more than five times my age.

Overall, interning with The Electrochemical Society has been a great opportunity and I know I will be using the skills learned during my internship here, throughout my career. Thank you ECS staff and members for making me feel welcome, always being helpful and for teaching me something new on a daily basis. I could not have asked for a better internship experience.

Spring 2015 Internship Opportunity:

If you are seeking an internship opportunity for the spring semester, contact Beth Fisher, Membership Services Director, at beth.fisher@electrochem.org for more information. And no worries if you have not had much experience within the field of electrochemistry, I didn’t either, but you’ll pick it up quick and it is truly a great opportunity.

JESECS is seeking to fill the position of Technical Editor of the Electrochemical Engineering Topical Interest Area for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

The Electrochemical Engineering (EE) Topical Interest Area (TIA) includes industrial electrochemistry; the mathematical modeling of electrochemical reactors and devices; electrochemical machining; and the electrochemical synthesis of compounds. Specific topics include: kinetics, selectivity, and yields; mass, momentum, and heat transport; and electrode designs and evaluation.

The Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES) has been in existence since 1902. Along with the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology (JSS), JES and JSS provide unparalleled opportunities to disseminate basic research and technology results in electrochemical and solid state science and technology. JES and JSS each publish a minimum of 12 regular and focus issues each year. All ECS journals offer Author Choice Open Access.

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High Temp Materials DivisionECS recognizes outstanding technical achievements in electrochemistry and solid-state science and technology through its Honors & Awards program. There are many deserving members of the High Temperature Materials Division among us and this is an opportunity to highlight their contributions.

We are currently accepting nominations for the following award:

HTM Outstanding Achievement Award was established in 1984 to recognize excellence in high temperature materials research and outstanding technical contributions to the field of high temperature materials science. The award consists of a scroll, a $1,000 prize and complimentary meeting registration. The recipient is required to attend the designated Society meeting to receive the award and to give a lecture to the HTM Division. The recipient is eligible for up to $1,000 toward travel expenses to facilitate attendance.

Please review the award rules carefully before completing the application.

Nomination Deadline: January 1, 2016

ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship

ecs_toyota

The Electrochemical Society with Toyota North America
2016-2017 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship
for Projects in Green Energy Technology

Proposal Submission Deadline: January 21, 2016

ECS, in partnership with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), is requesting proposals from young professors and scholars pursuing innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology.

Global development of industry and technology in the 20th century, increased production of vehicles and the growing population have resulted in massive consumption of fossil fuels. Today, the automotive industry faces three challenges regarding environmental and energy issues: (1) finding a viable alternative energy source as a replacement for oil, (2) reducing CO2 emissions and (3) preventing air pollution. Although the demand for oil alternatives—such as natural gas, electricity and hydrogen—may grow, each alternative energy source has its disadvantages. Currently, oil remains the main source of automotive fuel; however, further research and development of alternative energies may bring change.

Fellowship Objectives and Content

The purpose of the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship is to encourage young professors and scholars to pursue research in green energy technology that may promote the development of next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels. Electrochemical research has already informed the development and improvement of innovative batteries, electrocatalysts, photovoltaics and fuel cells.

Through this fellowship, ECS and TRINA hope to see more innovative and unconventional technologies borne from electrochemical research.

The fellowship will be awarded to a minimum of one candidate annually. Winners will receive a restricted grant of no less than $50,000 to conduct the research outlined in their proposal within one year. Winners will also receive a one-year complimentary ECS membership as well as the opportunity to present and/or publish their research with ECS.

Meet last year’s winners.

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Support Emerging Scientists

ecs-logoIn 2013, Carlo Santoro received the F.M. Beckett Summer Fellowship from ECS. Through that fellowship, he connected with Dr. Plamen Atanassov at the University of New Mexico to study enzymes and their integration into microbial systems.

Now, Dr. Santoro is working alongside Dr. Atanassov and some of the world’s best microbiologists to develop bio-catalytic materials that will simultaneously decontaminate wastewater and generate energy in a microbial biofuel cell.

Carlo’s story parallels the experiences many of us have had in our own careers. Whether it was a summer fellowship or an important networking event, many of us have benefited from opportunities that impacted not only our academic careers, but our future prospects as well.

carlo-s“I spent a summer at the University of New Mexico learning and integrating enzymes into a microbial system to make a hybrid system. It was interesting; it was a way to learn new things, a way to interact with people in different fields, to learn more. It was a very, very great experience.”
-Carlo Santoro
2013 summer fellowship recipient

At ECS, we recognize that today’s emerging scientists are the next generation of leaders in our field. They will continue to make discoveries and shape our science long into the future. But they need our support now to get there.

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