Credit: ACS Publications

Most of us don’t stop to think about it, but the skin on our body is pretty remarkable. The largest organ in the body can detect pressure, temperature changes, pain, and touch, all made possible thanks to the many nerves and receptors underneath our skin. With all that said, it’s easy to understand why it’s hard to duplicate this unique organ. But, according to ScienceDaily, researchers are working to do just that. Their goal is to reproduce and transfer these qualities into a manmade electronic skin technology that can be used in prosthetic devices, wearable health monitors, robotics, and virtual reality. (more…)

Image: A. Lange & Söhne

A watch is often seen as a mark of elegance, power, and taste. Take Daniel Craig for example, the actor is the staple definition of suave and sleek, sporting thousands of dollars worth of Omega watches throughout the 007 franchise. But, how well do they hold up to an electrochemically built watch?

According to In Compliance Magazine, Empa scientists have created the next generation of watch springs, built to be scientifically powerful, tiny, and extremely durable. (more…)

The Gold of Today’s Tech World

In the remote hills of the Appalachian Mountains lies what’s considered the gold of today’s day and age — Quartz, the basis of the modern computer chip. A recently published Wired article, The Ultra-Pure, Super-Secret Sand That Makes Your Phone Possible, discusses the pristine sand, a key player in manufacturing the silicon used to make the chips. From the processor in your laptops to the processor in your cell phones and tablets, all of which likely derived from the sand.

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Hieu Quang Pham, the Korea Section Student Award winner for 2018.

Nomination Deadline: September 30, 2018

ECS recognizes outstanding technical achievements in electrochemistry and solid-state science and technology through its Honors & Awards Program. There are many deserving members of the Korea Section among us and this is an opportunity to highlight their contributions.

We are currently accepting nominations for the following award:

Korea Section Student Award was established in 2005 to recognize academic accomplishments in any area of science or engineering in which electrochemical and/or solid state science and technology is the central consideration. The award is intended to encourage students who are pursuing a PhD at a Korean university to initiate or continue careers in the field.

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By: Nir Kshetri, University of North Carolina – Greensboro

IOTThe world is full of connected devices – and more are coming. In 2017, there were an estimated 8.4 billion internet-enabled thermostats, cameras, streetlights and other electronics. By 2020 that number could exceed 20 billion, and by 2030 there could be 500 billion or more. Because they’ll all be online all the time, each of those devices – whether a voice-recognition personal assistant or a pay-by-phone parking meter or a temperature sensor deep in an industrial robot – will be vulnerable to a cyberattack and could even be part of one.

Today, many “smart” internet-connected devices are made by large companies with well-known brand names, like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung, which have both the technological systems and the marketing incentive to fix any security problems quickly. But that’s not the case in the increasingly crowded world of smaller internet-enabled devices, like light bulbs, doorbells and even packages shipped by UPS. Those devices – and their digital “brains” – are typically made by unknown companies, many in developing countries, without the funds or ability – or the brand-recognition need – to incorporate strong security features.

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MicroscopeLenses are no longer necessary for some microscopes, according to the engineers developing FlatScope, a thin fluorescent microscope whose abilities promise to surpass those of old-school devices.

A paper in Science Advances describes a wide-field microscope thinner than a credit card, small enough to sit on a fingertip, and capable of micrometer resolution over a volume of several cubic millimeters.

FlatScope eliminates the tradeoff that hinders traditional microscopes in which arrays of lenses can either gather less light from a large field of view or gather more light from a smaller field.

Rice University engineers Ashok Veeraraghavan, Jacob Robinson, Richard Baraniuk, and their labs began developing the device as part of a federal initiative by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as an implantable, high-resolution neural interface. But the device’s potential is much greater.

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Researchers have created an algorithm that could work alongside an extremely sensitive laser technology that reflects off nearby objects to help self-driving cars see around corners.

Imagine that a driverless car is making its way through a winding neighborhood street, about to make a sharp turn onto a road where a child’s ball is rolling across the street. Although no person in the car can see that ball, the car stops to avoid it.

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Fuel Cell CarUsing advanced computational methods, University of Wisconsin–Madison materials scientists have discovered new materials that could bring widespread commercial use of solid oxide fuel cells closer to reality.

A solid oxide fuel cell is essentially an engine that provides an alternative way to burn fossil fuels or hydrogen to generate power. These fuel cells burn their fuel electrochemically instead of by combustion, and are more efficient than any practical combustion engine.

As an alternative energy technology, solid oxide fuel cells are a versatile, highly efficient power source that could play a vital role in the future of energy. Solid oxide fuel cells could be used in a variety of applications, from serving as a power supply for buildings to increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles.

However, solid oxide fuel cells are more costly than conventional energy technologies, and that has limited their adoption.

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Focus IssueDeadline Extended: March 19, 2018

The “Semiconductor-Based Sensors for Application to Vapors, Chemicals, Biological Species, and Medical Diagnosis” focus issue of the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology aims to cover various active or passive semiconductor devices for gas, chemical, bio and medical detection, with the focus on silicon, GaN, dichalcogenides/oxides, graphene, and other semiconductor materials for electronic or photonic devices.

The scope of contributed articles includes materials preparation, growth, processing, devices, chemistry, physics, theory, and applications for the semiconductor sensors. Different methodologies, principles, designs, models, fabrication techniques, and characterization are all included. Integrated systems combine semiconductor sensors, electric circuit, microfluidic channels, display, and control unit for real applications such as disease diagnostic or environmental monitoring are also welcome.

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By: Srikanth Saripalli, Texas A&M University

What should a self-driving car do when a nearby vehicle is swerving unpredictably back and forth on the road, as if its driver were drunk? What about encountering a vehicle driving the wrong way? Before autonomous cars are on the road, everyone should know how they’ll respond in unexpected situations.

I develop, test and deploy autonomous shuttles, identifying methods to ensure self-driving vehicles are safe and reliable. But there’s no testing track like the country’s actual roads, and no way to test these new machines as thoroughly as modern human-driven cars have been, with trillions of miles driven every year for decades. When self-driving cars do hit the road, they crash in ways both serious and minor. Yet all their decisions are made electronically, so how can people be confident they’re driving safely?

Fortunately, there’s a common, popular and well-studied method to ensure new technologies are safe and effective for public use: The testing system for new medications. The basic approach involves ensuring these systems do what they’re intended to, without any serious negative side effects – even if researchers don’t fully understand how they work.

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