Using human skin as one of its charge-collectors, a new flexible generator converts muscle movements into enough power for small electronics.Image: National University of Singapore

Using human skin as one of its charge-collectors, a new flexible generator converts muscle movements into enough power for small electronics.
Image: National University of Singapore

A new discovery from the National University of Singapore has yielded a material that could be used to create battery-free, wearable sensors to power your electronics from the energy generated via muscle movement.

The sensor, which is the size of a postage stamp, uses human skin as one of its charge-collectors. The device takes advantage of static electricity to convert mechanical energy into electricity. It is powered by the wear’s daily activities such as walking, talking, or simply holding an object.

This from IEEE Spectrum:

They tested the device by attaching it to a subject’s forearm or throat, nanopillar side down. Fist-clenching and speaking produced 7.3V and 7.5V respectively. The researchers tested the device as a human motion/activity sensor by attaching it on the forearm and measuring the pulse generated due to holding and releasing of an object.

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Sensors Make ‘Sixth Sense’ Possible

Scientists from Germany and Japan have developed a new magnetic sensor, which is thin, robust and pliable enough to be smoothly adapted to human skin, even to the most flexible part of the human palm.Image: IFW Dresden

Scientists from Germany and Japan have developed a new magnetic sensor, which is thin, robust and pliable enough to be smoothly adapted to human skin, even to the most flexible part of the human palm.
Image: IFW Dresden

Humans possess five basic senses: touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell. While we do not inherently possess any senses beyond those five, it is possible to tap into extended senses through science and technology.

Magnetoception, for example, is a sense which allows bacteria, insects and even vertebrates like birds and sharks to detect magnetic fields for orientation and navigation. While humans cannot organically perceive magnetic fields, scientist have just created a new sensor that may allow us to do so.

Researchers from Germany and Japan have developed a new magnetic sensor that is thin and pliable enough to be adapted to the human skin. This innovation makes equipping humans with magnetic senses a more viable reality.

This from Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden:

These novel magneto-electronics are less than two micrometers thick and weights only three gram per square meter; they can even float on a soap bubble. The new magnetic sensors withstand extreme bending with radii of less than three micrometer, and survive crumpling like a piece of paper without sacrificing the sensor performance. On elastic supports like a rubber band, they can be stretched to more than 270 percent and for over 1,000 cycles without fatigue. These versatile features are imparted to the magnetoelectronic elements by their ultra-thin and –flexible, yet robust polymeric support.

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Voltage profiles of charge-discharge cycles of the Li/Li3PS4/S battery.Image: Journal of The Electrochemical Society

Voltage profiles of charge-discharge cycles of the Li/Li3PS4/S battery.
Image: Journal of The Electrochemical Society

A team from Japan’s Samsung R&D has worked in collaboration with researchers from the University of Rome to fabricate a novel all solid state Lithium-sulfur battery.

The paper has been recently published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society. (P.S. It’s Open Access! Read it here.)

The battery’s capacity is around 1,600 mAhg⁻¹, which denotes an initial charge-discharge Coulombic efficiency approaching 99 percent.

Additionally, the battery possesses such beneficial properties as the smooth stripping-deposition of lithium. In contrast to other Li-S cells, the new battery’s activation energy of the charge transfer process is much smaller.

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An Ever-Present Light (Bulb)

Centinnial Light Bulb

Lynn Owens, former chairman of the Centennial Light Bulb

Since 1901, just a year before The Electrochemical Society was founded, a light bulb was installed to bring light into a firehouse in Livermore, California. Back then, if a call came in for the firemen at night, they would have to dress, assemble their gear, and organize the hand water-trucks (no motorized firetrucks yet) in the dark. By adding what we now consider the simple light bulb, a fire station was much more readily able to handle emergencies. And that light bulb, now more than 113 years old, is still burning today.

This incandescent light bulb, invented by Adolphe A. Chaillet, was produced by the Shelby Electric Company. Originally giving off a glowing 60 watts, it now burns steadily at 4 watts. It has been moved several times, most recently in 1976, as the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department has changed locations.

“According to a website dedicated to the bulb, Debora Katz, a physicist at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., has conducted extensive research into the Livermore light bulb’s physical properties, using a vintage light bulb from Shelby Electric Co. that is a near replica of the Livermore light.

“The Livermore light bulb differs from a contemporary incandescent bulb in two ways,” says Katz. “First its filament is about eight times thicker than a contemporary bulb. Second, the filament is a semiconductor, most likely made of carbon.”

Watch the live webcam here to see the longest-burning light bulb in the world.

Listen to the 99% Invisible podcast for an in-depth look at the bulb.

Learn more about light bulbs in the ECS Digital Library.

Smaller, More Powerful Li-Ion Battery

Researchers around the world are in a scientific race to develop a near-perfect lithium-ion battery, and a startup from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have just unlocked the secret.

In 2012, Qichao Hu founded SolidEnergy – a startup that grew out of research and academics from MIT. Qichao started with battery technology that he and ECS member Donald Sadoway developed.

Now, the company is claiming to have built a lithium-ion battery that could change battery technology as we know it.

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Member Spotlight – Yossef Elabd

Dr. Yossef Elabd, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation.Image: Texas A&M University

Dr. Yossef Elabd, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation.
Image: Texas A&M University

The Electrochemical Society’s Yossef A. Elabd is using electrochemical science to work toward global sustainability with his new advancements in fuel cell car technology.

Elabd, an active member of ECS’s Battery Division, has developed two fuel cell vehicle platforms for both present day enhancements and future innovation – focusing not only on the science, but also the environment.

“I just want to drive my car with water vapor coming out the back of it,” Elabd said.

With this new technology and initiatives such as the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, Elabd’s statement may become an achievable reality for many people in the near future.

The idea of the fuel cell vehicle is every environmentalist’s dream, but the current issues deal with the sustainability of the vehicle. The current fuel cell car uses a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyte for its platinum-based electrodes.

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The technology is designed to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.Image: Eric Whitmire

The technology is designed to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.
Image: Eric Whitmire

Science can be a strange and wondrous world of extraordinary innovation and unbelievable discovery. Now, one of our favorite scientific innovations has made its return: the cyborg cockroach.

As you may remember, ECS Board Member and Senior VP Dan Scherson once co-authored a paper that detailed how a cyborg cockroach can generate and transmit signals wirelessly. (You can check paper out here – it’s open access!)

Now cyborg cockroaches are making their way back into science with a new study that uses the roaches to pick up sounds with small microphones and seek out the source of that sound.

The purpose of this development is to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of an accident.

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Beyond Open Access

"The unique and longer-term part of our OA plan is to "Free the Science™": to provide all ECS content at no cost to anyone—no fees for authors, readers, and libraries."

“The unique and longer-term part of our OA plan is to “Free the Science™“: to provide all ECS content at no cost to anyone—no fees for authors, readers, and libraries.”

Published in the latest issue of Interface.

The models of scientific communication and publication—which have served us all so well for so long—are no longer fully meeting the spirit of the ECS mission, may not be financially viable, and are hurting the dissemination of the results of scientific research.

The future of Open Access (OA) can change not only scholarly publishing, but can change the nature of scientific communication itself. OA has the power to more “evenly distribute” the advantages currently given to those who can easily access the outputs of scientific research.

ECS has long been concerned with facilitating that access, and our mission has been to disseminate the content from within our technical domain, as broadly as possible, and with as few barriers as possible. To accomplish this, we have maintained a robust, high-quality, high-impact publishing program for over 100 years.

Several years ago, ECS started taking a serious look at the challenges facing us in fulfilling our mission, specifically with respect to our publishing program. The challenges—faced by others in publishing, to a greater or lesser degree—are many and have become increasingly sever.

When a commercial scientific publisher is taking a 35% net profit out of the system, compared with under 2% by ECS, something is not only wrong, but it is clear that some publishers will do anything and everything they can to keep maintaining that level of profit. For many, journal publishing has indeed become a business.

Read the rest.

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.

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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.”

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