Building Better Electronic Devices

The development of the silicon chip forever changed the field of electronics and the world at large. From computers to cellphones to digital home appliances, the silicon chip has become an inextricable part of the structure of our society. However, as silicon begins to reach its limits many researchers are looking for new materials to continue the electronics revolution.

Fan Ren, Distinguished Professor at the University of Florida and Technical Editor of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology, has based his career in the field of electronics and semiconductor devices. From his time at Bell Labs through today, Ren has witnessed much change in the field.

Future of Electronics

Upon coming to the United States from Taiwan, Ren was hired by Bell Labs. This hub of innovation had a major impact on Ren and his work, and is where he first got his hands-on semiconductor research. During this time, silicon was the major player as far as electronic materials went. While electronics have transformed since that time, the materials used to create integrated circuits have essentially stayed the same.

People keep saying of other semiconductors, “This will be the material for the next generation of devices,” says Ren. “However, it hasn’t really changed. Silicon is still dominating.”


ECS Podcast – Oral History of Harold J. Read

We’re delving into our archives with our new Masters Series podcasts. In 1995, ECS and the Chemical Heritage Foundation worked together to compile oral histories of some of the key players in electrochemical and solid state science. Now, we’re bringing those personal perspectives to life.

Today you’ll be hearing from Harold J. Read, a renowned metallurgist who turned his private workspace into a military metal shop to assist in work on the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Listen and download these episodes and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.

Inspired by nature, Shelley Minteer and her research group at the University of Utah are looking for a way to merge electrochemistry and biology. With a little inspiration, Minteer aims to bring to life innovative devices that can be applied to anything from fuel cells to electrosynthesis.

“We’re looking at biological inspiration,” says Minteer. “As electrochemists, we’re looking at things in terms of the molecular biology of living cells and seeing how we can make a better electrochemical cell from that.”

Inspiration from Biology

The sciences of biology and electrochemistry tend to have many fundamental concepts in common. On the biological side, one can look at how humans eat and metabolize food in a comparative way to the functions of a fuel cell. Additionally, plants and electrosynthesis work similarly in the way they take in CO2 and produce fuel.

“As a group, we’re looking to see if we could use biology as our inspiration to do electrochemistry, and that has taken us into a lot of different applications,” says Minteer.


2015 ECS Outstanding Student Chapter

ECS would like to introduce its 2015 ECS Outstanding Student Chapter Award recipient, Indiana University!

Indiana University Student Chapter officers and advisors proudly holding their award plaque.

Indiana University Student Chapter officers and advisors proudly holding their award plaque.

The Outstanding Student Chapter Award is a prestigious award given annually at the fall ECS bi-annual meeting. An Outstanding Student Chapter recipient actively participates in the ECS community, hosts their own community outreach activities and lectures, and has devoted, hardworking members.

With over twenty members, Indiana University Student Chapter is led by Professor Dennis Peters and Professor Lane Baker. This group is made up of members from different research backgrounds, which allows discussion to vary and provide insight into the numerous fields of electrochemistry, including bioanalytical and environmental. The chapter has hosted guest speakers, including Allen J. Bard and Nate Lewis, on their campus to not only present seminars, but also give career advice.

The mission of the Indiana Student Chapter is to spread knowledge of electrochemical science to the younger members of their community. This year will mark the fourth year in a row that this chapter volunteered at Science Fest, where chapter members host an entire laboratory with hands-on electrochemical experiments. This coming year they will also add a research talk, open to all.

The Indiana Student Chapter strives to build a better forum for students with different backgrounds to share their ideas, host and conduct outreach activities, while furthering their professional development.

Congratulations, Indiana University!

Electric Bikes Providing Sustainable Solutions

Tucker1From solar energy to biofuels to hydrogen cars—sustainable solutions have become some of the hottest topics in the scientific community. While much of the focus in alternative forms of transportation has been automobiles (see Tesla and Toyota), ECS member Telpriore Gregory Tucker is shifting his attention in another direction: electric bikes. While Tucker’s bikes hold promise for the future of sustainable transportation, they could also potentially have a much greater impact.

“I don’t just sell electric bikes, I actually provide people with sustainable solutions,” says Tucker, founder of the Southwest Battery Bike Co.

Inspiration through education

The idea behind Tucker’s Phoenix, Arizona-based electric bike company started back in 2010 when he began volunteering with the youth at his church. As a mentoring program began to emerge, Tucker volunteered to addresses topics in STEM education.

“One of my personal goals is helping kids. I’ve been in a lot of programs as a child to help me get to where I am now,” says Tucker. “Giving back is important to me because I see a lot of kids in situations I’ve been in or environments that I’ve come from where a lot of the time, you don’t get that opportunity.”


Fuel Cell Research Shows Promising Potential

When it comes to alternative energy solutions, many researchers are looking to fuel cells as a promising solution. With high theoretical efficiency levels and their environmentally friendly qualities, fuel cells could be an answer to both the energy crisis and climate issues. However, researchers are still looking at how to build a fuel cell so that it is not only efficient, but also cost effective.

Sadia Kabir, ECS student member and PhD student at the University of New Mexico, recently published a paper in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society detailing her novel work on graphene-supported catalysts for fuel cells. Kabir is moving from theory to proof with her new research, showcasing an efficient and economically viable fuel cell.

The research was compiled by an interdisciplinary team with representatives from the University of New Mexico, University of Portiers, and Franunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology.


Recycling Energy: From Waste to Reusable

Jaeho Lee, assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine and head of the Nano Thermal Energy Research Group.

Jaeho Lee, head of the Nano Thermal Energy Research Group.

Every year, around 60 percent of the energy produced in the United States is wasted. With a heavy reliance on traditional combustion cycles and the burning of fossil fuels, an astronomical amount of potentially usable energy dissipates into the environment as waste. However, there may be a way to harvest that waste energy without drastically changing the energy infrastructure.

Jaeho Lee, assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine and ECS member, recently presented a paper at the 228th ECS Meeting on the thermal transport in nanostructures targeting the applications of thermoelectric energy conversion. This innovative technology has the potential to be applied to the current energy infrastructure in an effort to harvest a percentage of the wasted energy.

“Thermoelectrics could allow us to harvest waste heat in any form,” says Lee. “We could talk about large-scale waste heat from factory combustion cycles, but it could also be as small as something we generate from our bodies.”

Thermoelectric Potential

Thermal energies exist everywhere. By harvesting waste energy, researchers are taking a complementary step toward a more sustainable energy infrastructure.

“Globally, we’re consuming a lot of energy,” says Lee. “The world population is continuously increasing. Not only that, our energy consumption rate is increasing.”


Adam Heller and ECS Through the Years

Remember our Official ECS Major League Trading Cards? This year, we're adding a special card in honor of Adam Heller to the series.

Get your official Adam Heller trading card at the 228th ECS Meeting!

With the fifth international Electrochemical Energy Summit and the ECS Lecture by Adam Heller, the  228th ECS Meeting is poised to be one of our most significant programs in the history of the Society. While Heller’s contributions to science are well known—from lithium batteries to biomedical engineering to photoelectrochemistry—his connects to ECS may not be as familiar, but nonetheless run deep.

Notably, this is not the first lecture delivered by Heller at an ECS meeting. During the 180th ECS Meeting in 1991, Heller delivered one of four ECS lectures entitled “On the Impact of Electrochemistry on Biomedicine and the Environment.” Now, 28 years later Heller will be delivering yet another lecture at the 228th ECS Meeting in the same location as the 180th. With his scientific themes transcending the years, his lecture this year is entitled “Wealth, Global Warming and Geoengineering.”

Over 50 Years of Innovation

Aside from delivering the much anticipated ECS Lecture at the 228th ECS Meeting, Heller will also be accepting the Heinz Gerischer Award for his fundamental and applied contributions to electrochemistry and its uses. This award is especially significant due to the connection between Heller and Gerischer.


WEB-salmonella-cucumber-c-1020x1028A nationwide outbreak of Salmonella-tainted cucumbers has afflicted states with increased illnesses and hospitalizations. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined the source and cause of the outbreak, the damage has been done, and the case count is expected to rise in spite of the recent recall. Many are now asking the question: how can we better control food safety?

Shin Horikawa and his team at Auburn University believe their novel biosensor technology could resolve many of the current issues surrounding the spread of foodborne illnesses. As the principal scientist for a concept hand-picked for the FDA’s Food Safety Challenge, Horikawa is looking to make pathogen detection faster, more specific, and cheaper.

Faster, Cheaper, Smarter

“The current technology to detect Salmonella takes a really long time, from a few days to weeks. Our first priority is to shorten this detection time. That’s why we came up with a biosensor-based detection method,” says Horikawa, Postdoctoral researcher at Auburn University and member of ECS.


Research out of the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) has yielded a novel micro-supercapacitor that has reportedly reached an energy density 1,000 times greater than current electrochemical capacitors.

This unmatched energy storage performance was made possible through a new electrode, producing density levels comparable to that of current lithium-ion micro-batteries.

Applications of this new technology could range from small electronics to autonomous sensor networks, opening the door to better water quality and air pollution monitoring.

“The extent of the electrode’s surface and the presence of pores of various sizes are key to a large storage capacity. We designed this new 3D electrode using an electrochemical process to synthesize a very porous gold structure. Ruthenium oxide, a pseudocapacitative material featuring high electrical conductivity and very good cyclability, was then inserted into the structure, resulting in unsurpassed energy density. For this type of application, component sizes are reduced to a few square millimeters, making it possible to use such expensive materials,” said Daniel Guay, ECS member and co-author of the study.


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