The development of ultralight, ultrathin solar cells is on the horizon due to a new semiconductor call phosphorene.

A team of researchers from Australian National University have developed an atom-thick layer of black phosphorus crystals through a process that utilizes sticky tape.

“Because phosphorene is so thin and light, it creates possibilities for making lots of interesting devices, such as LEDs or solar cells,” said lead researcher Dr. Yuerui (Larry) Lu.

The fabrication of this phosphorene is similar to that of graphene, bringing the new material to a thickness of just 0.5 nanometers. With phosphorene’s novel properties, doors are opening for a new generation of solar cells and LEDs.


U.S. Begins Utilizing Hydro Power (Video)

The United States has focused the majority of its solar energy efforts on solar and wind power for the grid. For the first time ever, wave power is being utilized in the U.S. to power homes off the coast of Hawaii.

Waves are being turned into electricity through the Azura prototype, which captures the complex motion of waves to more efficiently capture wave movement for better electricity generation.

The device, which was deployed last month, will be monitored for one year to measure effectiveness and efficiency. If all goes as well as researchers predict, a larger version will hit the seas in 2017.


Graphene’s New Role in Water-Splitting

5592616537473The topics of climate change and the energy crisis are on the minds of many scientists working in the fields of energy storage and conversion. When looking toward the future, the development of more efficient and effective energy storage technologies is critical. Instead of our traditional “carbon cycle,” researchers are beginning to focus on the “hydrogen cycle” as a promising alternative.

With this, there been a lot of focus on water-splitting techniques. However, there are many challenges that this technology has to overcome before it reaches efficient levels on a large scale.

In order to help address complications associated with water-splitting, ECS member Qiang Zhang is leading a research group from Tsinghua University to help get closer to the ultimate goal of the “hydrogen cycle” by developing a novel graphene/metal hydroxide composite with superior oxygen evolution activity.


100% Renewable Energy Vision

Can the United States convert to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050? Stanford University’s Mark Z. Jacobson and U.C. Berkeley’s Mark Delucchi certainly think so. In fact, they’ve laid out a very comprehensive plan to do just that.

The two researchers have recently published a study detailing the viability of the U.S. converting to 100 percent green energy. They’re calling for aggressive changes in both infrastructure and energy consumption on a state-by-state level to achieve this goal. The new study shows that this transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources is not only technically possible with already existing technologies, but it’s also economically feasible.

“The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change. One way to overcome the barriers is to inform people about what is possible,” Jacobson said. “By showing that it’s technologically and economically possible, this study could reduce the barriers to a large scale transformation.”


Engineering a Better Solar Cell

This new development will lead to accelerated improvements in the materials' uniformity, stability, and efficiency.Source: University of Washington

This new development will lead to accelerated improvements in the materials’ uniformity, stability, and efficiency.
Source: University of Washington

In light of the growth in solar energy research, scientists have been directing a lot of attention toward perovskites. The materials’ wide range of use and potential to outpace silicon-based semiconductors in the field of solar cells makes perovskites an interesting area of research with great potential.

Researchers from the University of Washington, in conjunction with the University of Oxford, have discovered a new quality to perovskites that could help engineer a better solar cell.

The researchers have shown in their research that, contrast to popular belief, the perovskites are uniform in composition. The materials actually contain flaws that can be engineered to improve solar devices even further.

“In that short amount of time, the ability of these materials to convert sunlight directly into electricity is approaching that of today’s silicon-based solar cells, rivaling technology that took 50 years to develop,” said Dane deQuilettes, a University of Washington doctoral student. “But we also suspect there is room for improvement.”


Tesla Reveals Battery to Power Homes

Elon Musk has just announced the new Tesla Energy division, which aims to move the energy grid away from dependency on fossil fuels and toward renewables.

The new line features a suite of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries—similar to the batteries used in the Tesla vehicles—for homes, businesses, and utilities. The company states that the battery can store renewable energy at a residential level for load shifting, backup power, and self-consumption of solar power generation.

During his announcement, Musk stated that this move could help change the “entire energy infrastructure of the world.”

The batteries have the ability to charge during non-peak energy usage hours and provide the home with energy during peak usage hours. The batteries are available at 10kWh or 7kWh, with a selling price of $3,500 and $3,000 respectively.

To put this into perspective, an energy comparison firm estimates that 1kWh can produce enough power for a full washing machine cycle.

Tesla hopes that this new line of batteries gets us closer to zero emission power generation and fosters a clean energy ecosystem.

Breaking Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Abruna_Hector_D“You’re not going to solve the energy problem by separating paper and plastic. We need to transition out of our dependency on fossil fuels and into renewables. As a society, it is really up to us to change.”

ECS Fellow Héctor D. Abruña recently spoke on the importance of developing better batteries to change the energy landscape at a Charter Day Weekend lecture at Cornell University.

The energy infrastructure as it exists today cannot maintain in its current form in the years to come. The United Nations expects the world’s population to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. Compare this to the current 7.2 billion population and the current issues with the energy infrastructure and the need for change becomes quite apparent.

Fortunately, Abruña and scientists like him are working to move us toward a more energy efficient and sustainable future through developments in fuel cells and batteries, which will power energy efficient and environmentally safe cars, as well as reshape the energy infrastructure itself.

“If we have any hope of solving the energy problems, we need better energy conversion and storage,” said Abruña.


Scotland Going 100% Green by 2020

Registration for the ECS Conference on Electrochemical Energy Conversion & Storage with SOFC-XIV is now open. The conference is set to take place this July in Scotland, a fitting venue when looking at the country’s goal of utilizing 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.

In 2012, Scotland pulled 40 percent of its power from renewable resources—a 24 percent increase over 2010.

Scotland is expected to hit the hallway point on the path of obtaining 100 percent renewable this year, making it the perfect platform for some of the top researchers globally in fuel cells and batteries.


Are You Submitting an Abstract?


Deadline for Submitting Abstracts
May 1, 2015

Submit today!

You won’t want to miss the

– Electrochemical Energy Summit 2015 –

Theme: Solar Critical Issues and Renewable Energy

Held during the 228th ECS Meeting, the fifth international ECS Electrochemical Energy Summit is designed to foster an exchange between leading policy makers and energy experts about society needs and technological energy solutions.


  • Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures, and Transport Center (FIRST)
    David Wesolowski, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage (NECCES)
    M. Stanley Whittingham, Binghamton University
  • Center for Mesoscale Transport Properties (m2m)
    Esther Takeuchi, Stony Brook University
  • Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES)
    Gary Rubloff, University of Maryland
  • Center for Electrochemical Energy Science (CEES)
    Paul Fenter, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR)
    George Crabtree, Director
  • Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP)
    Harry Atwater, Director


Member Spotlight – Luke Haverhals

What better day than Earth Day to highlight the work of ECS member Luke Haverhals, an assistant professor at Bradley University working in novel types of energy storage and conversion through the utilization of renewable, sustainable substrates such as hemp, wood, and silk.

Haverhals is a former student of current ECS 3rd Vice-President Johna Leddy. Since departing from Leddy and the University of Iowa, Haverhals has worked in an area focused on wielding natural fibers using ionic liquids (i.e. enhanced energy conversion devices).

Ionic liquids have been gaining much notoriety lately, with potential game changing electrolytes for energy conversion devices ranging from batteries to fuel cells.

Make sure to join Haverhals and other scientists pioneering world-changing research by joining ECS today and attending our upcoming scientific meeting!

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