CellphoneThe development of the lithium-ion battery has helped enable the modern day electronics revolution, making possible everything from cellphones to laptops to electric vehicles and even grid-scale energy storage.

However, those batteries have limited lifespans. Battery expert Daniel P. Abraham is looking to address that.

“As your cellphone battery ages, you notice that you have to plug it in more often,” says Abraham, ECS member and scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. “Over a period of time, you are not able to store as much charge in the battery, and that is the process we call capacity fade.”

Abraham is a co-author of an open access paper recently published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, “Transition Metal Dissolution, Ion Migration, Electrocatalytic Reduction and Capacity Loss in Lithium-Ion Full Cells,” which addresses the question of why your battery doesn’t age well.

A majority of today’s electronic devices are powered by the lithium-ion battery. In order for the battery to store and release energy, lithium ions move back and forth between the positive and negative electrodes through an electrolyte.  In theory, the ions could travel back and forth an infinite number of times, resulting in a battery that lasts forever.

But that’s not what happens in the batteries that power your laptops and your electric vehicles. According to Abraham, unwanted side reactions often occur as ions move between the electrodes, resulting in batteries that lose capacity over time.

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BatteryLike all things, batteries have a finite lifespan. As batteries get older and efficiency decreases, they enter what researchers call “capacity fade,” which occurs when the amount of charge your battery could once hold begins to decrease with repeated use.

But what if researchers could reduce this capacity fade?

That’s what researchers from Argonne National Laboratory are aiming to do, as demonstrated in their open access paper, “Transition Metal Dissolution, Ion Migration, Electrocatalytic Reduction and Capacity Loss in Lithium-Ion Full Cells,” which was recently published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

The capacity of a lithium-ion battery directly correlates to the amount of lithium ions that can be shuttled back and forth as the device is charged and discharged. Transition metal ions make this shuttling possible, but as the battery is cycled, some of those ions get stripped out of the cathode material and end up at the battery’s anode.

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25 Years of Lithium-ion Batteries

Focus IssuesIn June 2016, the International Meeting on Lithium Batteries (IMLB) in Chicago successfully celebrated 25 years of the commercialization of lithium-ion batteries. According to Doron Aurbach, technical editor of the Batteries and Energy Storage topical interest area of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, research efforts in the Li-battery community continues to provide ground-breaking technological success in electromobility and grid storage applications. He hopes this research will continue to revolutionize mobile energy supply for future advances in ground transportation.

ECS has published 66 papers for a new IMLB focus issue in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society. All papers are open access at no charge to the authors and no charge to download thanks to ECS’s Free the Science initiative!

(READ: Focus Issue of Selected Papers from IMLB 2016 with Invited Papers Celebrating 25 Years of Lithium Ion Batteries)

The focus issue provides important information on the forefront of advanced battery research that appropriately reflects the findings from the symposium.

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Venkat SubramanianVenkat Subramanian is the Washington Research Foundation Innovation Professor of Chemical Engineering and Clean Energy at the University of Washington. His research efforts focus on computational models to bridge next-generation energy materials to battery management systems. Subramanian has recently been named a new technical editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, concentrating in the electrochemical engineering Topical Interest Area.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role as technical editor?
I am humbled and honored to be a Journal of The Electrochemical Society technical editor and I hope to help improve the impact factor and reach of our journal without losing the rigor we are known for. In particular, the electrochemical engineering topical interest area serves a critical role of taking fundamental electrochemistry to industrial applications. My current aim is to promote both traditional and new industrial applications of electrochemistry across different scales.

What are some of the biggest barriers for authors and for readers in the current publishing model?
Once I had a proposal rejected in my early academic career wherein the reviewer criticized me for not being aware of a recent article. I called the program officer to convey my unfortunate situation of not having access to the specified journal at my institution. While there are interlibrary loans or other such mechanisms, they are not optimal for making progress in research. Research requires instantaneous and immediate access. If you don’t have it, you lose out to your competitors who have such access. Note that every proposal is (and should be) reviewed on its merit and not resources available at a particular institution. Open access is critical for researchers and scientists.

What is the role of the Journal Impact Factor in scientific publishing?
Whether we like it or not, perception matters. Many academic departments have become highly interdisciplinary. Impact factor plays a big role in tenure and promotion decisions and there may be only one faculty member working in the field of electrochemistry. While I personally don’t read or benefit much from journals with high impact factor*, I will strive hard to promote and improve the impact factor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society and the perception about ECS journals in the scientific community.

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300 Pounds of ECS Journals

John and Stephany Murray

John and Stephany Murray delivering nearly 300 lbs. of journals to ECS headquarters. (Click to enlarge.)

Since 1902, ECS has continuously published innovative, impactful research in the field of electrochemical and solid state science and technology. From the first publication of the Transactions of the American Electrochemical Society over 100 years ago to the over 1,700 journal papers published in the Society’s Digital Library every year, ECS has disseminated a massive amount of research since its establishment.

One ECS member happened to have a good deal of that research sitting in his basement office.

John Murray joined ECS in 1962, which is when he began receiving the paper version of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES). Since then, he’s stowed the paperbound research in his basement, making sure to transfer it wherever his career took him. Now, that collection has made its way from his home in Timonium, MD to ECS headquarters in Pennington, NJ.

Cultivating a collection

Murray’s electrochemical career began at Allis-Chalmers Corp. Research Division in West Allis, WI, where he worked on catalysts and electrodes that would assist in the development of hydrogen oxygen fuel cells for NASA. When the company hit financial issues and sold its research division to Teledyne Technologies, Murray was one of just nine employees to keep his position. That took him and his wife Stephany to Timonium, MD, where they currently live.

And of course, where the around 700 pounds of ECS journals live as well.

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Janine MauzerollJanine Mauzeroll is an associate professor at McGill University, where she leads a research group focused on topics ranging from electrochemistry in organic and biological media to electronically-conducting polymers. Her work combines experimental and theoretical electrochemical methods and applies them to biomedical and industrial problems such as multidrug resistance in human cancer cells, neurotransmitter release, biosensor design, and high-speed scanning electrochemical microscopy. Mauzeroll has recently been named a new technical editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, concentrating in the Organic & Bioelectrochemistry Topical Interest Area.

What do you hope to accomplish in your role as Technical Editor?
I see no greater need than the one related to the promotion of fundamental research as a necessary partner to applied and industry driven science. As Technical Editor, I will put emphasis on complete experimental and full disclosures to generate “go to” manuscripts.

Moving forward, I hope to convince established researchers to continue sending in manuscripts by offering them visibility, such as special issues in or keynote addresses at symposiums. We need to seek out new researchers and deliver on our promise to provide a respectful and efficient review.

How has the rise of open access changed the current scholarly publishing model?
The rise of open access is a game changer and step forward for science. Strongly influenced by funding agencies, who have financed the publishing costs related to figures, covers and, general publishing costs, it is now a requirement in several countries that all publicly funded research be open access. In removing this budgetary constraints, we promote a publishing model focused on a desired target audience and impact.

Additionally, ECS’s Free the Science initiative will lead to a more general access to reliable and good scientific information, which is a basic requirement for further innovation and discoveries. In removing these constraints, more resources are being diverted to supporting the pillars of our research: students and fellows. Knowledge sharing basically forces us to move away from our protectionism inclinations and focus on our next great idea.

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Editors' ChoiceThree new Editors’ Choice articles have been published recently in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES) and ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology (JSS).

An Editors’ Choice article is a special designation applied by the Journals’ Editorial Board to any article type. Editors’ Choice articles are transformative and represent a substantial advance or discovery, either experimental or theoretical. The work must show a new direction, a new concept, a new way of doing something, a new interpretation, or a new field, and not merely preliminary data.

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David CliffelDavid Cliffel is the Professor of Chemistry & Department Chair at Vanderbilt University, where he leads research on the electrochemistry and analytical chemistry of nanoparticles and photosynthetic proteins. He has recently become a new Technical Editor for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, concentrating in the Physical and Analytical Electrochemistry, Electrocatalysis, and Photoelectrochemistry Topical Interest Area.

What do you hope to accomplish as the new Technical Editor of JES?
I’d like to improve the connection between what’s happening – as far as vibrant science – at the meetings and have that reflected in the quality of the papers in the journal. I think my role is really to facilitate the extension of the quality of the meetings into the journals.

How important is the peer-review process to the integrity of scientific publications?
Peer-review is the heart of how science gets evaluated and how important discoveries get communicated to the rest of us. The review process is still the best method we have of being able to evaluate the quality and importance of what’s really happening in our field. The reviewers are a critical part, and in JES, the key aspect is that our reviewers are in electrochemistry and that may or may not be the case in any other journal. One of our greatest assets is the quality of our reviewers’ knowledge in electrochemistry.

What kind of impact have you seen open access have on academic publishing?
Open access really has expanded the rest of the world’s ability to access high-quality journals. It’s also opened up technical papers to a larger part of the scientific audience and expanded what the audience is reading. That has been a very exciting thing. My open access papers are getting read by high school students and I’m getting emails from high school teachers about what’s the new paper that just came out in an area they happen to be searching in. Open access drives scientific knowledge and the spread of scientific knowledge to people who never had access before.

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BatteryLithium-air batteries are viewed by many as a potential next-generation technology in energy storage. With the highest theoretical energy density of all battery devices, Li-air could revolutionize everything from electric vehicles to large-scale grid storage. However, the relatively young technology has a few barriers to overcome before it can be applied. A new study published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES) is taking a fundamental step forward in advancing Li-air through the development of mixed metal catalyst that could lead to more efficient electrode reactions in the battery.

The paper, entitled “In Situ Formed Layered-Layered Metal Oxide as Bifunctional Catalyst for Li-Air Batteries,” details a cathode catalyst composed of three transition metals (manganese, nickel, and cobalt), which can create the right oxidation state during the battery cycling to enable both the catalysis of the charge and the discharge reaction.

Future opportunities

According to K.M. Abraham, co-author of the paper, the manganese allows for the catalysis of the oxygen reduction reaction while the cobalt catalyzes the charge reaction of the battery.

“This offers opportunities for future research to develop similar materials to optimize the catalysis of the Li-air battery using one material that will combine the functions of these mixed metal oxides,” Abraham says.

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Glass supercapactors

Researchers place a block of glass between a cathode and anode, and then exerted steady pressure on the glass while gradually heating it.
Image: Douglas Benedict of Academic Image

A new study published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society describing novel finding in how glass transforms under intense electrical and thermal conditions could potentially spur development in glass supercapacitors, which could bolster the performance of batteries now used for electric vehicles and solar energy.

“This technology is relevant to companies seeking the next wave of portable, reliable energy,” says Himanshu Jain, Lehigh University professor and co-author of the study. “A breakthrough in the use of glass for power storage could unleash a torrent of innovation in the transportation and energy sectors, and even support efforts to curb global warming.”

This from Lehigh University:

McLaren’s work in Marburg revealed a two-step process in which a thin sliver of the glass nearest the anode, called a depletion layer, becomes much more resistant to electrical current than the rest of the glass as alkali ions in the glass migrate away. This is followed by a catastrophic change in the layer, known as dielectric breakdown, which dramatically increases its conductivity. McLaren likens the process of dielectric breakdown to a high-speed avalanche, and using spectroscopic analysis with electro-thermal poling as a way to see what is happening in slow motion.

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