The winner of the 2018 Canada Section Student Award is Shuai Chen!

Shuai (Sharon) Chen graduated from Lakehead University with an MSc in electrochemistry. She worked on fundamental studies of Pd based materials for hydrogen storage and purification. Her research provided a thoughtful guidance for commercial hydrogen purification films. During this period, she was awarded a travel grant from the ECS Physical and Analytical Electrochemistry Division and the High Output and Publication Excellence Award from Lakehead University.

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BatteryA team of researchers from the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research is taking a potential major step toward developing energy dense, safe solid state magnesium-ion batteries.

This research marks another step in pursing batteries that utilize solid electrolytes, which could offer significant safety benefits over conventional lithium-ion batteries.

The work was developed out of efforts to create a magnesium battery with a liquid electrolyte. While magnesium has promising properties for energy storage, the researchers had trouble finding a viable liquid electrolyte for the technology that wouldn’t corrode.

“Magnesium is such a new technology, it doesn’t have any good liquid electrolytes,” said Gerbrand Ceder, co-author of the research and member of ECS. “We thought, why not leapfrog and make a solid state electrolyte?”

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Electric VehiclesAs sustainable technologies continue to expand into the marketplace, the demand for better batteries rises. Many researchers in the field are looking toward all-solid-state batteries as a promising venture, citing safety and energy density properties. Now, one company is looking to take that work from the lab to the marketplace.

Electric car maker Fisker has recently filed patents for solid state lithium-ion batteries, stating that mass scale production could begin as soon as 2023. The patent covers novel materials and manufacturing processes that the company plans to use to develop automotive-ready batteries.

Unlike other types of rechargeable batteries that use liquid electrodes and electrolytes, solid state batteries utilize both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes. While liquid electrolytes are efficient in conducting ions, there are certain safety hazards attached (i.e. fires if the battery overheats or is short-circuited). In addition to better safety, solid electrodes could also impact battery cost and energy density, opening up new possibilities for large scale storage applications.

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SemiconductorScientists have figured out how to make tiny individual films—each just a few atoms high—and stack them for use in new kinds of electronics.

Over the past half-century, scientists have shaved silicon films down to just a wisp of atoms in pursuit of smaller, faster electronics. For the next set of breakthroughs, though, they’ll need new ways to build even tinier and more powerful devices.

In a study that appears in Nature, researchers describe an innovative method to make stacks of thin, uniform layers of semiconductors just a few atoms thick which could expand capabilities for devices like solar cells and cell phones.

Stacking thin layers of materials offers a range of possibilities for making electronic devices with unique properties. But manufacturing them is a delicate process, with little room for error, researchers say.

“The scale of the problem we’re looking at is, imagine trying to lay down a flat sheet of plastic wrap the size of Chicago without getting any air bubbles in it,” says Jiwoong Park, a professor of chemistry at the University of Chicago and at the Institute for Molecular Engineering and the James Franck Institute. “When the material itself is just atoms thick, every little stray atom is a problem.”

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SemiconductorEngineers have created a high-frequency electronic chip potentially capable of transmitting tens of gigabits of data per second, much faster than the fastest internet available today.

Omeed Momeni, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of California, Davis, and doctoral student Hossein Jalili designed the chip using a phased array antenna system. Phased array systems funnel the energy from multiple sources into a single beam that can be narrowly steered and directed to a specific location.

“Phased arrays are pretty difficult to create, especially at higher frequencies,” Momeni says. “We are the first to achieve this much bandwidth at this frequency.”

The chip prototyped by Momeni and Jalili successfully operates at 370 GHz with 52 GHz of bandwidth. For comparison, FM radio waves broadcast between 87.5 and 108 MHz; 4G and LTE cellular networks generally function between 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz with up to 20 MHz of bandwidth.

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Battery fires led to the recall of nearly 2 million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. In order to address this safety concern, researchers at Stanford University have identified 21 solid electrolytes for solid state batteries that could power the next-generation of electronics.

“Electrolytes shuttle lithium ions back and forth between the battery’s positive and negative electrodes,” says lead author of the study Austin Sendek, a doctoral candidate at Stanford University, who worked with ECS member Yi Cui on this research. “Liquid electrolytes are cheap and conduct ions really well, but they can catch fire if the battery overheats or is short-circuited by puncturing.”

As demands from the electronics industry grow and consumers become more suspicious of lithium-ion technology, researchers have started focusing efforts on creating an all-solid-state battery.

“The main advantage of solid electrolytes is stability,” Sendek says. “Solids are far less likely to blow up or vaporize than organic solvents. They’re also much more rigid and would make the battery structurally stronger.”

Join Additional Primary Divisions!

Attention prospective and current ECS members! Did you know? As of this year, you can belong to more than one primary division!

Divisions

Each ECS division corresponds to a topical interest area. ECS has seven electrochemistry divisions and six solid state science and technology divisions:

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Discussing the importance of cyber security

Cyber Security via IStockWhile cyberwar may sound like the plot of the latest sci-fi blockbuster, the realities of the phenomena are much more palpable. Few understand that better than Yaw Obeng, ECS member and senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In light of the 2014 hack on Sony Pictures, the suspected Russian hacking of U.S. Democratic National Committee emails, and the data breach of the U.S. government, in which the personal information of 21.5 million government employees was leaked, the scientists at NIST – specifically researchers like Obeng – have been shifting their attention to cyber security.

“Right now, everything that can be attached to the internet has been attached to the internet – right down to toothbrushes,” says Obeng, ECS Dielectric Science and Technology Division chair. “The question then becomes: How do we make sure that these devices are secure so they cannot be hijacked or compromised?”

(MORE: Read Obeng’s paper on this topic published in ECS Transactions.)

The answer to that question, however, may not be as simple as some would hope.

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As the landscape of energy harvesting evolves, so do the devices that store that energy. According to researchers from Toyohashi University, all-solid-state lithium rechargeable batteries are at the top of the list of promising future energy storage technologies due to their high energy density, safety, and extreme cycle stability.

ECS member Yoji Sakurai and a team from the university’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Information Engineering recently published a paper detailing their development to advance the all-solid-state batteries, which pushes past barriers related to electrochemical performance.

(MORE: Read Sakurai’s previously published paper in ECS Electrochemistry Letters.)

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JSS Editors’ Choice article discusses AlGaN/GaN HEMTs

When it comes to putting technology in space, size and mass are prime considerations. High-power gallium nitride-based high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) are appealing in this regard because they have the potential to replace bulkier, less efficient transistors, and are also more tolerant of the harsh radiation environment of space. Compared to similar aluminum gallium arsenide/gallium arsenide HEMTs, the gallium nitride-based HEMTs are ten times more tolerant of radiation-induced displacement damage.

Until recently, scientists could only guess why this phenomena occurred: Was the gallium nitride material system itself so inherently disordered that adding more defects had scant effect? Or did the strong binding of gallium and nitrogen atoms to their lattice sites render the atoms more difficult to displace?

The answer, according to scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory, is none of the above.

Examining radiation response

In a recent open access article published in the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology entitled, “On the Radiation Tolerance of AlGaN/GaN HEMTs,” the team of researchers from NRL state that by studying the effect of proton irradiation on gallium nitride-based HEMTs with a wide range of initial threading dislocation defectiveness, they found that the pre-irradiation material quality had no effect on radiation response.

Additionally, the team discovered that the order-of-magnitude difference in radiation tolerance between gallium arsenide- and gallium nitride-based HEMTs is much too large to be explained by differences in binding energy. Instead, they noticed that radiation-induced disorder causes the carrier mobility to decrease and the scattering rate to increase as expected, but the carrier concentration remains significantly less affected than it should be.

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