Smaller, More Powerful Li-Ion Battery

Researchers around the world are in a scientific race to develop a near-perfect lithium-ion battery, and a startup from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have just unlocked the secret.

In 2012, Qichao Hu founded SolidEnergy – a startup that grew out of research and academics from MIT. Qichao started with battery technology that he and ECS member Donald Sadoway developed.

Now, the company is claiming to have built a lithium-ion battery that could change battery technology as we know it.

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Member Spotlight – Yossef Elabd

Dr. Yossef Elabd, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation.Image: Texas A&M University

Dr. Yossef Elabd, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation.
Image: Texas A&M University

The Electrochemical Society’s Yossef A. Elabd is using electrochemical science to work toward global sustainability with his new advancements in fuel cell car technology.

Elabd, an active member of ECS’s Battery Division, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation – focusing not only on the science, but also the environment.

“I just want to drive my car with water vapor coming out the back of it,” Elabd said.

With this new technology and initiatives such as the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, Elabd’s statement may become an achievable reality for many people in the near future.

The idea of the fuel cell vehicle is every environmentalist’s dream, but the current issues deal with the sustainability of the vehicle. The current fuel cell car uses a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyte for its platinum-based electrodes.

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The technology is designed to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.Image: Eric Whitmire

The technology is designed to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.
Image: Eric Whitmire

Science can be a strange and wondrous world of extraordinary innovation and unbelievable discovery. Now, one of our favorite scientific innovations has made its return: the cyborg cockroach.

As you may remember, ECS Board Member and Senior VP Dan Scherson once co-authored a paper that detailed how a cyborg cockroach can generate and transmit signals wirelessly. (You can check paper out here – it’s open access!)

Now cyborg cockroaches are making their way back into science with a new study that uses the roaches to pick up sounds with small microphones and seek out the source of that sound.

The purpose of this development is to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of an accident.

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Beyond Open Access

"The unique and longer-term part of our OA plan is to "Free the Science™": to provide all ECS content at no cost to anyone—no fees for authors, readers, and libraries."

“The unique and longer-term part of our OA plan is to “Free the Science™“: to provide all ECS content at no cost to anyone—no fees for authors, readers, and libraries.”

Published in the latest issue of Interface.

The models of scientific communication and publication—which have served us all so well for so long—are no longer fully meeting the spirit of the ECS mission, may not be financially viable, and are hurting the dissemination of the results of scientific research.

The future of Open Access (OA) can change not only scholarly publishing, but can change the nature of scientific communication itself. OA has the power to more “evenly distribute” the advantages currently given to those who can easily access the outputs of scientific research.

ECS has long been concerned with facilitating that access, and our mission has been to disseminate the content from within our technical domain, as broadly as possible, and with as few barriers as possible. To accomplish this, we have maintained a robust, high-quality, high-impact publishing program for over 100 years.

Several years ago, ECS started taking a serious look at the challenges facing us in fulfilling our mission, specifically with respect to our publishing program. The challenges—faced by others in publishing, to a greater or lesser degree—are many and have become increasingly sever.

When a commercial scientific publisher is taking a 35% net profit out of the system, compared with under 2% by ECS, something is not only wrong, but it is clear that some publishers will do anything and everything they can to keep maintaining that level of profit. For many, journal publishing has indeed become a business.

Read the rest.

Safer, Thinner Lithium Rechargeables

New technology developed by researchers at the University of Michigan has been designed with the intention of preventing fires caused by lithium-ion battery malfunctions.

Researchers are making this possible by creating an advanced barrier between the electrodes in the lithium-ion battery. The barrier is made with nanofibers extracted from Kevlar – the material known for its use in bulletproof vests. The Kevlar nanofibers stifle the growth of metal tendrils that can become unwanted pathways for electrical current.

“Unlike other ultra strong material such as carbon nanotubes, Kevlar is an insulator,” said Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering. “This property is perfect for separators that need to prevent shorting between two electrodes.”

Short-circuiting happens in these batteries when holes in the membranes are too big and dendrites poke through to the membrane. They create a path for electrons within the battery, shorting it out.

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Magnetic Graphene

New research could lead to new multi-functional electronic devices.

New research could lead to new multi-functional electronic devices.

Graphene is regarded by many as a wonder material and hosts a multitude of amazing properties, but magnetism has never been one of them. The only way to make the material magnetic is by doping it with magnetic imputrites, but that tends to negatively impact its electronic properties. Now, a team of physicists at the University of California, Riverside decided to address this issue by finding a way to induce magnetism in graphene while also preserving its magnetic properties.

To do this, the team brought a graphene sheet very close to a magnetic insulator – an electrical insulator with magnetic properties.

“This is the first time the graphene has been made magnetic this way,” said Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy, whose lab led the research. “The magnetic graphene acquires new electronic properties so that new quantum phenomena can arise. These properties can lead to new electronic devices that are more robust and multi-functional.”

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In the scientific race to build fantastical devices such as invisibility cloaks, University of Arizona engineering professor Hao Xin is at the forefront.

His new discovery uses metamaterials – artificial materials engineered to bend electromagnetic, acoustic and other types of waves in ways not possible in nature – to take us one step closer to building microscopes with superlenses that see molecular-level details, therefore bringing us closer to the reality of building shields that could conceal military airplanes and people.

By using a 3-D printer to make metamaterials, Xin is able to configure objects in precise geometrical patterns to bend waves of energy in unnatural ways. Doing this allows researchers to tap into a property call negative refraction, meaning they can bend waves backwards.

In the future, someone wearing a cloak that has been manufactured with these artificially designed refraction properties would appear invisible.

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Image: Antalexion

Image: Antalexion

With climate change being a continually rising global dilemma, many scientist have turned their attention to research in the area of renewable energy sources. Even with some of the most brilliant minds working on improving efficiency and price of solar cells, they are still not widely used due to the high cost of materials used to develop the them. Now, a scientist may be on the path to cracking the code on material prices of solar cells by using nanotechnology.

Elijah Thimsen, assistant professor at the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis, worked in conjunction with a team of engineers at the University of Minnesota to develop a technique to increase the performance of electrical conductivity.

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Professor Chunlei Guo has developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials hydrophobic, illustrated in this image of a water droplet bouncing off a treated sample.Photo: J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

Professor Chunlei Guo has developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials hydrophobic, illustrated in this image of a water droplet bouncing off a treated sample.
Photo: J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester

New super-hydrophobic metals developed at the University of Rochester could mean big things for solar innovation and sanitation initiatives.

The researchers, led by Professor Chunlei Guo, have developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials extremely water repellant, thus resulting in rust-free metals.

Professor Guo’s research in novel not in the sense that he and his team are creating water resistant materials, instead they are creating a new way to develop these super-hydrophobic materials by taking away reliance on chemical coatings and shifting to laser technology.

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Development in Lithium-Ion Batteries

You can thank “dendrites” when your smartphone battery goes from a solid 40 percent charge to completely dead in a matter of 20 minutes. Thankfully, researchers out of Purdue University are researching these dendrites – otherwise known as the slayer of lithium-ion batteries – and developing something that could greatly improve the li-ion.

Dendrites work to destroy lithium-ion batteries by forming an anode electrode and growing until they affect battery performance – potentially resulting in complete battery failure.

The new study out of Purdue University explores this issue with the intention of creating a safer and longer-lasting lithium-ion battery that could be charged within minutes instead of hours.

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