National Academy of EngineeringRaymond J. Gorte, Yang Shao-Horn, and M. Stanley Whittingham, all of whom are ECS fellows, were recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Election to the NAE is one of the most prestigious professional distinctions bestowed upon engineers.

According to the NAE, academy membership honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”


By: Neal Dawson-Elli, Seong Beom Lee, Manan Pathak, Kishalay Mitra, and Venkat R. Subramanian

This article refers to a recently published open access paper in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, “Data Science Approaches for Electrochemical Engineers: An Introduction through Surrogate Model Development for Lithium-Ion Batteries.”

Electrochemistry and Data Science

Image via Neal Dawson-Elli
(Click to enlarge.)

Data science is often hailed as the fourth paradigm of science. As the computing power available to researchers increases, data science techniques become more and more relevant to a larger group of scientists. A quick literature search for electrochemistry and data science will reveal a startling lack of analysis done on the data science side. This paper is an attempt to help introduce the topics of data science to electrochemists, as well as to analyze the power of these methods when combined with physics-based models.

At the core of the paper is the idea that one cannot be successful treating every problem as a black box and applying liberal use of data science – in other words, despite its growing popularity, it is not a panacea. The image shows the basic workflow for using data science techniques – the creation of a dataset, splitting into training-test pairs, training a model, and then evaluating the model on some task. In this case, the training data comes from many simulations of the pseudo two-dimensional lithium-ion battery model. However, in order to get the best results, one cannot simply pair the inputs and outputs and train a machine learning model on it. The inputs, or features, must be engineered to better highlight changes in your output data, and sometimes the problem needs to be totally restructured in order to be successful.


SemiconductorObjects with “negative mass” react to the application of force in exactly the opposite way from what you would expect.

Researchers have created particles with negative mass in an atomically thin semiconductor, by causing it to interact with confined light in an optical microcavity.

This alone is “interesting and exciting from a physics perspective,” says Nick Vamivakas, an associate professor of quantum optics and quantum physics at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics. “But it also turns out the device we’ve created presents a way to generate laser light with an incrementally small amount of power.”

The device, described in Nature Physics, consists of two mirrors that create an optical microcavity, which confines light at different colors of the spectrum depending on the spacing of the mirrors.

Researchers in Vamivakas’ lab, including co-lead authors Sajal Dhara (now with the Indian Institute of Technology) and PhD student Chitraleema Chakraborty, embedded an atomically thin molybdenum diselenide semiconductor in the microcavity.


By: Richard Gunderman, Indiana University

Nikola TeslaMatch the following figures – Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Alfred Nobel and Nikola Tesla – with these biographical facts:

1. Spoke eight languages

2. Produced the first motor that ran on AC current

3. Developed the underlying technology for wireless communication over long distances

4. Held approximately 300 patents

5. Claimed to have developed a “superweapon” that would end all war

The match for each, of course, is Tesla. Surprised? Most people have heard his name, but few know much about his place in modern science and technology.

The 75th anniversary of Tesla’s death on Jan. 7 provides a timely opportunity to review the life of a man who came from nowhere yet became world famous; claimed to be devoted solely to discovery but relished the role of a showman; attracted the attention of many women but never married; and generated ideas that transformed daily life and created multiple fortunes but died nearly penniless.


Quantum dotsIn a new paper, researchers describe the underlying mechanisms involved in creating a widely used class of quantum dots that use cadmium and selenium compounds as their molecular precursors.

For more than 30 years, researchers have been creating quantum dots—tiny, crystalline, nanoscale semiconductors with remarkable optical and electronic properties.

They’ve applied them to improve television sets, for example, to greatly enhance color. A host of other applications are in the works, involving integrated circuits, solar cells, computing, medical imaging, and inkjet printing, among others.

But quantum dot synthesis has occurred largely by trial and error, because little has been understood about how the chemicals involved in making quantum dots—some highly toxic—actually interact to form the resulting nanoparticles. The new research may change that, revealing more about the process of quantum dot formation.

Ironically, the team also discovered that, at one point during this process, the safer, more controllable compounds now employed decompose into the same highly toxic compounds that were used in initial quantum dot production 30 years ago.


A team of researchers from MIT recently demonstrated a new electrochemical method to study thermodynamic processes in an ultra-high temperature molten oxide. In an effort to find new insights into the thermodynamic properties of refractory materials, researchers have developed a container-less electrochemical method to study thermodynamic properties of materials like aluminum oxide, which melts at temperatures above 2,000 degrees Celsius.

The finding were reported in the open access paper, “Electrochemical Study of a Pendant Molten Alumina Droplet and Its Application for Thermodynamic Property Measurements of Al-Ir,” which was recently published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

“We have a new technique which demonstrates that the rules of electrochemistry are followed for these refractory melts,” says senior author Antoine Allanore, an associate professor of metallurgy and member of ECS. “We have now evidence that these melts are very stable at high temperature, they have high conductivity.”


Green chemistryNew research is building a bridge from nature’s chemistry to greener, more efficient synthetic chemistry.

Researchers analyzed biocatalysts evolved by nature for their effectiveness in a variety of synthetic chemical reactions. The results, published in Nature Chemistry, open the door to promising practices for chemists, pointing to not only more efficient but also more powerful tools for chemists.

The researchers started with microorganisms that have, over the millennia, developed complex chemical reactions to create molecules with important biological activity for various purposes, such as defense mechanisms. The scientists then analyzed the chemical pathways that give rise to these potentially useful molecules to determine how they can be repurposed to create compounds synthetically in the lab.

“Nature has evolved catalytic tools that would enable chemists to build molecules that we can’t easily build just using traditional chemistry,” says senior study author Alison Narayan, assistant professor at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute. “Our work bridges the two worlds of biosynthesis and synthetic chemistry.”


By: John Staser, division vice chair and Assistant Professor at Ohio University

InterfaceAs vice chair of the Industrial Electrochemistry and Electrochemical Engineering Division, it is with great pleasure that I introduce the summer 2017 edition of Interface.

The authors of the articles you are about to read all worked tirelessly, and we owe them acknowledgement and significant gratitude for putting this issue together. Without their contributions, we would not be able to deliver the consistent quality of content that you expect in Interface.

We as a division hope to highlight the diverse activities of our members.

In the following pages you will find articles authored by industrial and academic members, with foci ranging from environmental applications to mathematical modeling to large-scale industrial production of metals. Such breadth is evidence that our division’s activities, as has been the case in the past, are ever evolving.


New paper-based, point-of-care diagnostic tools could lead to improvements in device cost, weight, and flexibility. The recently developed SPEDs, or self-powered, paper-based electrochemical device, can detect biomarkers such as glucose and white blood cells, all while remaining easy to read for non-experts.

The Purdue University research team behind this project believes it could be applicable for patients in regions where access to sophisticated medical equipment is limited.

“You could consider this a portable laboratory that is just completely made out of paper, is inexpensive and can be disposed of through incineration,” says Ramses V. Martinez, an assistant professor of industrial and biomedical engineering at Purdue University. “We hope these devices will serve untrained people located in remote villages or military bases to test for a variety of diseases without requiring any source of electricity, clean water, or additional equipment.”

CopperResearchers from MIT have developed a new way to extract copper by separating the commercially valuable metal from sulfide minerals in one step without harmful byproducts. The goal of this new process is to simplify metal production, thereby eliminating harmful byproducts and driving down costs.

To achieve this result, the team used a process called molten electrolysis. Electrolysis is a common technique used to break apart compounds, often seen in water splitting to separate hydrogen from oxygen. The same process is also used in aluminum production and as a final step in copper production to remove any impurities. However, electrolysis in copper production is a multistep process that emits sulfur dioxide.

This from MIT:

Contrary to aluminum, however, there are no direct electrolytic decomposition processes for copper-containing sulfide minerals to produce liquid copper.


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