Modeling Corrosion, Atom by Atom

corrosion_atom_by_atomAn article by Christopher D. Taylor in the latest issue of Interface.

In the late 20th century, computer programs emerged that could solve the fundamental quantum mechanical equations that control the interactions of atoms that give rise to bonding. These tools, first applied to molecules and bulk solid materials, then began to be applied to surfaces and, in the early 21st century, to electrochemical environments. Commercial and open-source programs are now readily available and can be used on both desktop and high-performance computing platforms to solve for the electronic structure of a given configuration of atomic centers (nuclei) and, in so doing, provide the basis for determining a whole host of properties, including electronic and vibrational spectra, electrical moments such as the system dipole, and, most importantly, the energy and forces on the atoms. Other derived properties include the extent to which each atom is charged and bond-orders, although to compute these latter properties one of a variety of methods for dividing up and quantifying the electron density associated with each atom must be selected.

The physics behind these codes is complex, and, challengingly, has no rigorous analytical solution that can be obtained within a finite allotment of time. Thus, the computer programs themselves take advantage of approximations that allow for a feasible solution but, at the same time, constrain the accuracy of the result. Nonetheless, solutions can usually be reliably obtained for model systems representing materials, interfaces, or molecules that do not exceed thousands, and, more realistically, hundreds of atoms. Given that system sizes of hundreds or thousands of atoms amount to no more than the smallest nanoparticle of a substance, the question arises: What can atomistic simulations teach us about corrosion?

Read the rest.

Meet the Glasgow Organizers

Glasgow_blog_imageThe ECS Conference on Electrochemical Energy Conversion & Storage with SOFC-XIV convening in Glasgow, Scotland at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre from July 26-31, 2015 is the first of a series of planned biennial conferences in Europe by ECS on electrochemical energy conversion/storage materials, concepts, and systems.

We are creating a forum where scientists and engineers can come together and discuss fundamental advances and engineering innovations.

Abstracts are due February 20, 2015
Find out more about submitting your abstract today!

The lead organizers of this conference are among the top researchers in their respective fields. We wanted to take a moment to introduce them to you:


This Day in Electrochemistry – Electric Lamp

On January 27, 1880, Thomas Edison received the historic patent embodying the principals of his incandescent lamp that paved the way for the universal domestic use of electric light.Image:Government Documents

On January 27, 1880, Thomas Edison received the historic patent embodying the principals of his incandescent lamp that paved the way for the universal domestic use of electric light.
Image: Government Documents

On this very day in the year 1880, Thomas Edison was granted a patent for the electric lamp, which gave light by incandescence.

While the first electric carbon arc lamp was invented by Sir Humphrey Davey of England in 1801, it wasn’t until Edison’s discovery in 1880 that we got the longer lasting electric lamp that changed the way we live.

Edison was one of the original members of The Electrochemical Society, joining the organization in 1903 – just one year after it was established. Early members such as Charles Burgess recall attending ECS meetings at Edison’s home in the early days of the Society.

On his years of research in developing the electric light blub, Edison was quoted in “Talks with Edison” by George Parsons Lathrop in Harpers magazine on February of 1890. He had this to say:

“During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention, pure and simple.”

Since the Thomas Edison’s days in the Society, ECS has been working to promote technological innovation and inspire scientists from around the world. Join some of the greatest scientific minds in electrochemical and solid state science and technology by becoming a member today!

open_access“Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” This is pulled from a public policy statement originally written in 2004 by the American Chemical Society.

Eighteen scientific societies signed on to a similar American Association for the Advancement of Science statement affirming the consensus scientific view on climate change in 2009. According to the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, at least 200 worldwide scientific organizations now formally hold the position that climate change has been caused by human action.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up in 1988 to assess global warming and its impacts. Recently, the panel released a major report, capping its latest assessment, a mega-review of 30,000 climate change studies that establishes with 95-percent certainty that nearly all warming seen since the 1950s is due to human activity. More than 700 of the world’s top climate scientists and 1,729 expert reviewers from more than 70 countries participated in the report process.


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.


The Science behind Unboiling an Egg

Researchers from UC Irvine have developed a way of unboiling eggs by restoring molecular proteins.Image: Steve Zylius/UC Irvine

Researchers from UC Irvine have developed a way of unboiling eggs by restoring molecular proteins.
Image: Steve Zylius/UC Irvine

You can’t unscramble an egg, but you can unboil one.

Chemists from the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) have found a way to unboil an egg by quickly restoring molecular proteins.

But this development is not as much about the egg as it is the process, which has the potential to slash biotechnology costs. The researchers believe this new process has the ability to dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production, and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry.

“Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,” said Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry. “In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order.”

The main purpose of the process is to quickly and efficiently produce or recycle valuable molecular proteins.


A battery at the University of Oxford has been incessantly ringing two bells for 175 years—but no one knows exactly why it’s lasted so long.

A battery at the University of Oxford has been incessantly ringing two bells for 175 years—but no one knows exactly why it’s lasted so long.

The “world’s most durable battery” has been continuously functioning since 1840 – and no one knows why this mysterious battery, commonly referred to as the Oxford Electric Bell, has lasted s long.

It all begins at the London-based instrument-manufacturing firm Watkins and Hill, where the battery was manufactured with dry piles – one of the first forms of electric batteries developed by Giuseppe Zamboni in the early 19th century.

In the mid-1800s, a physics professor got his hands on the mysterious device and its bells have been incessantly ringing every since.

This from Smithsonian:

In the mid-1800s, Robert Walker, a physics professor at the University of Oxford, acquired an interesting device. It was a battery designed to propel a hanging metal ball quickly back and forth, between two small bells. Today, 175 years after it was manufactured, the Oxford Electric Bell, as it is often referred to, is still ringing – in fact, it is said to have rung over 10 billion times.


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.”


The headset, worn mounted on carrier frames just above or in front of the eyes, houses a high-definition camera, OLED screens, and multiple supporting technologies used to capture and display a real-time video-feed.

The headset, worn mounted on carrier frames just above or in front of the eyes, houses a high-definition camera, OLED screens, and multiple supporting technologies used to capture and display a real-time video-feed.

Visual impairments and blindness affect millions of people globally. According to the World Health Organization, 39 million people are blind and 246 million have low visions, globally. Now, a company by the name of eSight is stepping into the game to assist in restoring eyesight to the legally blind through a new feat of engineering.

According to the company, the glasses can adapt to any situation and maintain peripheral sight. While the company knew their goal, the engineering challenge was to electronically optimize the minimal useable vision that exists in people with low vision so they can more fully participate in everyday life.

This from Tech Times:

The devices use a prescription lens frame, holding a headset. A hand controller is used to adapt a live video stream, optimizing an LED display, placed directly in front of the eyes of a user. These controls permit the operator to adjust contrast, brightness, and color of the image, in order to provide better vision.


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.