ECS Executive Director recently sat down with co-author of the seminal Alkaline Storage Batteries and globally respected battery and biomedical researcher, Alvin J. Salkind, to take a look back on his tremendously influential career in the sciences.

We are sad to say that Dr. Salkind has passed away since the recording of this interview. Take a look at some of the remarkable ways he impacted ECS.

Listen to the podcast below and download this episode and others for free throught the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher.

PS: Check out the video version of this podcast and interviews with other world-leaders in electrochemical and solid state science as part of our Masters Series.

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Posted in Podcasts

Researcher from Stanford University have developed a new device that has made water-splitting more practical and boosted efficiency levels to an unprecedented 82 percent.

With just one catalyst, the novel water-splitting device can continuously generate hydrogen and oxygen for more than 200 hours with a steady input of just 1.5 volts of electricity.

Through this new device, researchers can produce renewable sources of clean-burning hydrogen fuel.

The Stanford researchers are using just one catalyst instead of the traditional two in water-splitting processes, which allows the cost to drop significantly.

“For practical water splitting, an expensive barrier is needed to separate the two electrolytes, adding to the cost of the device. But our single-catalyst water splitter operates efficiently in one electrolyte with a uniform pH,” said Haotian Wang, lead author of the study and graduate student at Stanford.

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Using this National Geographic image, Dr. Chanda is able to demonstrate the color-changing abilities of the nanostructured reflective display.Image: University of Central Florida

Using this National Geographic image, Dr. Chanda is able to demonstrate the color-changing abilities of the nanostructured reflective display.
Image: University of Central Florida

The development to the first colorful, flexible, skin-like display is taking wearable electronics to a whole new level.

Researchers from the University of Central Florida’s NanoScience Technology Centre have created a digital “skin” that can cloak wearers in realistic images. This new technology could be applied to concepts as simple as outfit changes, or more serious matters like replacing camouflage for members of the military.

The research was led by Professor Debashis Chanda, who took inspiration for this development from nature.

“All manmade displays – LCD, LED, CRT – are rigid, brittle and bulky. But you look at an octopus, they can create color on the skin itself covering a complex body contour, and it’s stretchable and flexible,” Chanda said. “That was the motivation: Can we take some inspiration from biology and create a skin-like display?”

This from Wired:

The result is described as an ultra-thin nanostructure, which can change color when different voltage is applied. The method uses ambient light rather than its own light source, meaning no bulky backlighting is needed, and the structure is relatively simple; a thin liquid crystal layer above and metallic “egg carton” like nanomaterial that reflects wavelengths selectively.

Read the full article here.

In the end, the researchers developed something that is 25 times thinner than human hair for easy application to fabrics and plastics.

Head over to the Digital Library to read about some of the latest research and innovations in nanomaterials.

How Your Car Could Be Powered by the Sun

By concentrating sunlight into reactors, H20 and CO2 can be split to form liquid fuels.Image: The Conversation/David Hahn

By concentrating sunlight into reactors, H2O and CO2 can be split to form liquid fuels.
Image: The Conversation/David Hahn

The sun produces an astronomical amount of energy each day, but scientists and engineers are still trying to better understand how to convert that energy into an efficient, usable form. Recently, work in photovoltaics deals with utilizing different materials, new arrangements of cell components, and interdisciplinary work to improve efficiently levels. However, a new and exciting area of photovoltaics is now rising in the ranks: turning sunlight into liquid fuels.

With this new development on the rise, the possibility of one day filling our cars with solar-generated fuel is on the horizon.

Researchers are giving more attention to the production of solar fuels because energy conversion and storage and simultaneously covered under one technique. It will give solar energy a wider scope due to more utilization opportunities, whereas conventional photovoltaic energy is only being used for one-third of the day when sunlight is at its peak.

Currently, the greatest roadblock lies in commercialization of the man-made solar fuels due to the substantial amount of energy it takes to break down stable CO2 and H2O molecules.

However, researchers are also exploring aspects of artificial photosynthesis through electrochemistry to help produce efficient, affordable man-made solar fuels.

Further material from the ECS Digital Library:

Read more about processes and current projects on The Conversation.

PS: Watch Ralph Brodd, a pillar of electrochemical science and technology with over 40 years in the electrochemical energy conversion business, talk about the future of the energy infrastructure and how it has transformed over the years.

Alvin J. Salkind

Alvin J. Salkind in an undated photo.

“My nature is curiosity and The Electrochemical Society has gone a long way to satisfy my curiosity…” — A. Salkind

About two years ago, ECS began a conversation with Prof. Salkind about his proposal for a revised edition of Alkaline Storage Batteries. In the proposal we presented to John A. Wiley & Sons (our partner in publishing monographs), I said it was from “one of the ECS ‘giants’.”

That was quite true about Dr. Salkind. When I first met him (and ever after), I was engaged by his tremendous intellect, his wide-ranging curiosity, and his still being very much involved with his science.

Prof. Salkind was an emeritus member of ECS, having joined in 1952 as a student. He served the Society very well — as a Chair of our Battery Division and on an innovative committee called the New Technology Subcommittee. He became an ECS Fellow only in 2014, but over the course of his many years of involvement with ECS, he organized symposia, edited proceedings volumes, and chaired many committees.

Alkaline-Storage-Batteries

Cover of the Alkaline Storage Batteries book from 1969

In conjunction with developing a new edition of the Alkaline Storage Batteries book, Prof. Salkind began visiting ECS headquarters. We were immediately drawn in by his still-vibrant enthusiasm for the field and his fascinating anecdotes about other ECS notables in the field: Vladimir Bagotsky, Ernest Yeager, and Vittorio de Nora, among others. He was always willing to teach and to share. We were very fortunate to be able to “capture” Prof. Salkind in a very recent interview at the HQ office.

(Listen to it as a podcast. Watch the video.)

Professor Salkind generously considered ECS his technological home and brought his important monograph to be published by ECS. ECS is grateful to Dr. Salkind for his years of service to the Society and his contributions to the entire battery community; and we thank his family for supporting this remarkable person and sharing him with ECS.

The new arrangement of photovoltaic materials includes bundles of polymer donors (green rods) and neatly organized fullerene acceptors (purple, tan).Image: UCLA

The new arrangement of photovoltaic materials includes bundles of polymer donors (green rods) and neatly organized fullerene acceptors (purple, tan).
Image: UCLA

A team of UCLA scientists are delivering good news on the solar energy front with the development of their new energy storage technology that could change the way scientists think about solar cell design.

Taking a little inspiration from the naturally occurring process of photosynthesis, the researchers devised a new arrangement of solar cell ingredients to make a more efficient cell.

“In photosynthesis, plants that are exposed to sunlight use carefully organized nanoscale structures within their cells to rapidly separate charges — pulling electrons away from the positively charged molecule that is left behind, and keeping positive and negative charges separated. That separation is the key to making the process so efficient,” said Sarah Tolbert, senior author of this research and published ECS author.

PS: Check out Tolbert’s recently published open access paper in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society entitled, “The Development of Pseudocapacitive Properties in Nanosized-MoO2.”

The currently dilemma in solar cell design revolves around developing a product that is both efficient and affordable. While conventional silicon works rather well, it is too expensive to be practical on a large scale. More engineers and researchers have been moving to replace silicon with plastic, but that leads to efficiency levels taking a hit.

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ECS Student Chapters Expanding

student-chaptersAt the 227th ECS Meeting in Chicago, IL, the ECS Board of Directors voted to approve our newest ECS student chapters. Welcome to ECS:

  • Belgium Student Chapter – Sebastien Moitzheim, Chapter President
  • Illinois Institute of Technology Student Chapter – Lin Chen, Chapter President

Are you looking to start your own ECS student chapter? The next opportunity is right around the corner.

Time-frame for approval at the 228th ECS Meeting in Phoenix, AZ:

  • Student Chapter Applications Due to ECS Headquarters – Friday, September 4, 2015
  • Individual Membership Committee Approval – Monday, October 12, 2015
  • Board of Directors Approval – Thursday, October 16, 2015
  • Notification of Status – Week of October 19, 2015

For more information about student chapters, contact Beth Fisher at beth.fisher@electrochem.org.

Beth Schademann, ECS’s Publications Specialist, recently came across a Huffington Post article detailing some life-saving innovations in water purification.

A simple bag called the Fieldtrate Lite has made its way to isolated communities that lack clean water in an effort to save lives through improved sanitation.

The water filtering bag is a development of Singapore’s WateROAM, who specialize in portable water filtration systems. The Fieldtrate Lite filters dirty water though membranes, turning it into potable water in a very short period of time. The bag is specifically appealing for disaster relief operations and rural communities without access to clean water.

“Our vision is to build a world where no man shall face prolonged thirst,” said David Pong, WateROAM’s chief executive.

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2015 Summer Fellowship Recipients

ECS Summer Fellowship_Gen Chen NMSU

From New Mexico State University, Dr. Luo presents award check to ECS Student Member & ECS Edward G. Weston Summer Fellowship Recipient, Mr. Chen.

Beginning in 1928, these awards have been established over the years to assist students during the summer months in pursuit of work in the field of interest to The Electrochemical Society.

Announcing the ECS 2015 Summer Fellowship Recipients

Mr. Gen Chen
New Mexico State University
Advisor, Dr. Hongmei Luo
Edward G. Weston Summer Fellowship

Mr. Hadi Khani
Mississippi State University
Advisor, Dr. David Wipf
Colin Garfield Fink Summer Fellowship

Mr. Mohammad Mahdi Hasani-Sadrabadi
Georgia Institute of Technology
Advisor, Dr. Karl I. Jacob
Joseph W. Richards Summer Fellowship

University of Cambridge Ph.D. candidate, Raphaële Clément (left), receives her ECS 2015 Summer Fellowship award check from advisor & ECS member, Professor Clare Grey (right).

University of Cambridge Ph.D. candidate, Raphaële Clément (left), receives her ECS 2015 Summer Fellowship award check from adviser & ECS member, Professor Clare Grey (right).

Ms. Raphaele Clement
University of Cambridge
Advisor, Dr. Clare Grey
F. M. Becket Summer Fellowship

Mr. Alexander Pak
University of Texas at Austin
Advisor, Dr. Gyeong S. Hwang
Herbert H. Uhlig Summer Fellowship

Summer Fellowship Subcommittee (through the ECS Education Committee)
Mark Orazem
Vimal Chaitanya
Kalpathay Sundaram
Bryan Chin
Peter Mascher

Are you interested in supporting the ECS Summer Fellowship program or creating a new fellowship through ECS? Contact us for more information.

Posted in Students

Analyzing Thin Film Break-Up

The open-source code, WulffMaker, is available as a Wolfram computable document format file or a Mathematica notebook.Image: MIT/Rachel Zucker

The open-source code, WulffMaker, is available as a Wolfram computable document format file or a Mathematica notebook.
Image: MIT/Rachel Zucker

Recent PhD recipient and past ECS student member, Rachel Zucker, examined one of the most complex issues in materials science and has developed a range of mathematical solutions to explain the phenomena known as “dewetting” in solid films. In defense of her thesis, Zucker modeled dewetting in microscale and nanoscale thin films.

Dewetting can be boiled down to the general break-up of material due to excess surface energy. Zucker’s development provides us with not only a new understanding of this phenomenon, but also a way to simulate it. When analyzing solid state dewetting, issues becomes very prominent as engineers attempt to make products with smaller and smaller features.

“The big takeaway is: One, we can write down formulation of this problem; two, we can implement a numerical method to construct the solutions; three, we can make a direct comparison to experiments; and that strikes me as what a thesis should be — the complete thing — formulation, solution, comparison, conclusion,” said W. Craig Carter, MIT professor and Zucker’s co-adviser.

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