It’s the “Shark Tank” Treatment for these Scientists

Brainstorming

Over 100 researchers were guided through a brainstorming and working group session with the theme of improving access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries.

ECS is awarding $210,000 of seed funding to four innovative research projects addressing critical technology gaps in water, sanitation, and hygiene challenges being faced around the world.

Winners of the first Science for Solving Society’s Problems Challenge:

Artificial Biofilms for Sanitary/Hygienic Interface Technologies (A-Bio SHIT)
Plamen Atanassov, University of New Mexico, $70,000
Interfaces: Produce bio-catalytic septic cleaning materials that incorporate microorganisms removing organic and inorganic contaminants, while simultaneously creating electricity (or hydrocarbon fuel) for energy generation in support of a sustainable and portable system.

In-situ Electrochemical Generation of the Fenton Reagent for Wastewater Treatment
Luis Godinez, Centro de Investigacion y Desarrollo Tecnologico en Electroquimica SC, Mexico, $50,000
Disinfection: Study the electro-Fenton approach using activated carbon to efficiently oxidize most of the organic and biological materials present in sanitary wastewater so that recycling of the wastewater might be possible.

powerPAD
Neus Sabate, Institut de Microelectrónica de Barcelona (CSIC); Juan Pablo Esquivel, University of Washington; Erik Kjeang, Simon Fraser University, $50,000
Monitoring and Measurement: Develop a non-toxic portable source of power for water measuring and monitoring systems, which will not require recycling facilities. Using inexpensive materials such as paper, nanoporous carbon electrodes and organic redox species, the team will strive to create a biodegradable and even compostable power source.

More than MERe microbes: Microbial Electrochemical Reactors for water reuse in Africa
Gemma Reguera, Michigan State University, $40,000
Chemical Conversion: Develop microbial electrochemical reactors that harvest energy from human waste substrates using bioanodes engineered to process the waste into biofuels while simultaneously cleaning water for reuse. The microbial catalysts will be selected for their efficiency at processing the wastes, but also for their versatility to process other residential and agricultural waste substrates. This will provide an affordable, easy to operate system for the decentralized processing of a wide range of wastes for improved sanitation, water reuse, and energy independence.

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Highlights from the 2014 ECS and SMEQ Joint International Meeting (Photos)

Over 2,000 people attended the 2014 ECS and SMEQ Joint International Meeting in Cancun, Mexico. This was ECS’s first return visit to Cancun since 2006. Participants could choose among 51 symposia and 2,299 presentations.

(Look for photos on Facebook.)

Electrochemical Energy and Water Summit

Brainstorming breakout session at the Electrochemical Water and Energy Summit

Brainstorming breakout session at the Electrochemical Water and Energy Summit

In its first “Science for Solving Society’s Problems Challenge,” ECS partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to leverage the brainpower of the many scientists in electrochemistry and solid state science and technology that regularly attend ECS meetings. The four grantees were identified during a multi-day workshop. Over 100 researchers were guided through a brainstorming and working group session with the theme of improving access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries. The winners:

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Celebrating Open Access Week

OpenAccess3

Open access allows free, immediate, online access to peer-reviewed research with full rights to reuse the work.

This week has been declared International Open Access Week. Here at ECS, we’re boldly moving toward open access (OA) publication to make scientific research results and the latest findings more widely accessible, and thereby speeding up the discovery process.

Still, open access can be confusing and controversial at times – specifically for publishers. In order to explain many of the issues and concerns revolving around open access, a few OA advocates have banded together and took to Reddit’s popular “Ask me Anything” series.

Head over there now to see what they had to say about all things open access.

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New Microscope Collects Dynamic Images

Growing microtubule endpoints and tracks are color coded by growth phase lifetime.Credit: Betzig Lab, HHMI/Janelia Research Campus, Mimori-Kiyosue Lab, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

Growing microtubule endpoints and tracks are color coded by growth phase lifetime.
Credit: Betzig Lab, HHMI/Janelia Research Campus, Mimori-Kiyosue Lab, RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology

A new discovery out of Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus is allowing biologists to see 3-D images of subcellular activity in real time.

They’re calling it lattice light sheet microscopy, and it’s providing yet another leap forward for light microscopy. The imaging platform was developed by Eric Betzig and colleagues in order to collect high-resolution images rapidly and minimize damage to cells.

Continue reading to check out the amazing video that shows the five different stages during the division of a HeLa cell as visualized by the lattice light sheet microscope.

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Report Shows Significant Declines in Price of Solar Energy

In recent years, larger utility-scale solar projects in the United States have made great strides in delivering competitively priced renewable electricity.Credit: SunShot Initiative

In recent years, larger utility-scale solar projects in the United States have made great strides in delivering competitively priced renewable electricity.
Credit: SunShot Initiative

It’s a good day for renewable resources.

According to a jointly written report of solar photovoltaic systems (PV) pricing trends from the Energy Department’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), prices have dropped by 12 to 19 percent nationwide in 2013.

The report goes on to state that prices are expected to drop an additional 3 to 12 percent in 2014. The variation in percentage is dependent on the system location and market segment.

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Diagnosing Disease with a Skin Patch

The researchers optimized their device so it could capture two biomarkers for the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which kills more than 1 million people every year.

The researchers optimized their device so it could capture two biomarkers for the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which kills more than 1 million people every year.

One day, there may be no poking or prodding for a blood sample when you go to the doctor.

In the American Chemical Society journal Analytic Chemistry, researchers report that they have developed a patch that can detect malaria proteins in live mice, and believe that this same technology could be adapted for use in humans to diagnose other diseases.

Along with being generally painful, drawing blood requires trained personnel and expensive lab equipment and facilities for analysis. With the development of this patch, scientists believe they will be able to overcome these obstacles in the near future, thereby providing better health care for resource-limited patients.

This from the American Chemical Society:

Scientists have been trying to address these hurdles by developing diagnostic patches that are covered on one side with thousands of microscopic, hollow needles that can sample fluid in the skin. But so far, these devices have only been able to test for one compound at a time. However, many diseases can be diagnosed more reliably by detecting multiple biomarkers. Corrie’s team wanted to design a new patch that could meet this need.

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‘Smart’ Ice Skate Developed to Help Prevent Injury

This hybrid skate has strain gauges and wires leading from gauges to Wheatstone bridge boards.Credit: Institute of Physics Publishing

This hybrid skate has strain gauges and wires leading from gauges to Wheatstone bridge boards.
Credit: Institute of Physics Publishing

Although there may not be nearly as much physical contact as football or hockey, ice skating has been known to yield very serious injuries to its participants. During jumps, skaters can exert forces of more than six times their body weight. With training sessions consisting of 50 to 100 jumps each, it is easy to see how skating can take a toll on the body.

Now, researchers from Brigham Young University and Ithaca College are using sensor technology in existing blades to help discover how to prevent injury, as well as inform the design of a new and improved skating boot.

This from the Institute of Physics:

The strain gauges are attached directly to the stanchions where the blade connects to the boot, and when the stanchions deform due to the force induced by the ice skater, it causes the strain gauges to deform as well. Once deformed, the electrical resistance of the strain gauge changes—this change is measured by a device called a Wheatstone bridge, and a central control system is used to calculate the overall force that was imparted. The entire measuring device, including a battery, weighs 142 g and fits under the boot space of the blade so that none of the components makes contact with the ice.

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New Development in Higher-Energy Lithium Batteries

Researcher used microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO that could help enable higher-energy battery designs.Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Researcher used microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO that could help enable higher-energy battery designs.
Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The quest for better batteries is an ongoing trend, and now the researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have yet another development to add.

During their research, the scientists found exceptional properties in a garnet material. They now believe that this could lead to the development of higher-energy battery designs.

This from ORNL:

The ORNL-led team used scanning transmission electron microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO. The researchers found the material to be highly stable in a range of aqueous environments, making the compound a promising component in new battery configurations.

Read the full article here.

While most researcher tend to use a pure lithium anode to improve a battery’s energy density, the ORNL scientists believe the LLZO would be an ideal separator material.

“Many novel batteries adopt these two features [lithium anode and aqueous electrolyte], but if you integrate both into a single battery, a problem arises because the water is very reactive when in direct contact with lithium metal,” said ORNL postdoctoral associate Cheng Ma, first author on the team’s study published in Angewandte Chemie. “The reaction is very violent, which is why you need a protective layer around the lithium.”

With developments such as these, which lead to higher-energy batteries – we begin to improve electrified transportation and electric grid energy storage applications. Due to the importance of higher-energy batteries, researchers tend to explore battery designs beyond the limits of lithium-ion technologies.

Read the full study here.

To find out more about battery and how it will revolutionize the future, check out what the ECS Battery Division is doing. Also, head over to the Digital Library to read the latest research (some is even open access!). While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for e-Alerts so you can keep up-to-date with the fast-paced world of electrochemical and solid-state science.

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Space, Weight, and Cost Solution in Electric Cars

Until now, the motor and the inverter, which converts the battery's direct current into alternating current for the motor, were two separate components.Credit: Siemns

Until now, the motor and the inverter, which converts the battery’s direct current into alternating current for the motor, were two separate components.
Credit: Siemens

A team of engineers at Siemens’ has developed a way to save space, reduce weight, and cut the cost of electric car production. The team’s solution revolves around integrating an electric car’s motor and inverter, which have always been two separate components prior to this development.

This from Siemens:

The solution’s key feature is the use of a common cooling system for both components. This ensures that the inverter’s power electronics don’t get too hot despite their proximity to the electric motor, and so prevents any reduction in output or service life.

Read the full article here.

Accordingly, the weight of the vehicle is reduced due the integration of the inverter into the motor, which will now only need a single housing. Additionally, the development produces added installation space that can be used for a charging unit.

For more information on current and future developments in the electric car industry, check out some of our past coverage or head over to the Digital Library to see what our scientists are working on.

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IBM Contracts Company to Take Chip Unit

IBM reported a four percent drop in revenue on Monday due to its weak sales in software and services businesses.
Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

IBM reported that they will be getting out of the chip making business in order to give more attention to cloud computing and big data analytics.

The company will pay Globalfoundries $1.5 million over the next three years to take control of chip operations.

“They need to narrow their focus, get their A-game on, and any distractions from a core business perspective, such as this deal, need to be put in the rear-view mirror,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives told Reuters.

This is not the first notion of IBM reducing its presence in the hardware industry. Earlier this month, the company sold its x86 server business to Lenovo Group Ltd. For $2.1 billion.

This from Reuters:

Globalfoundries Chief Executive Sanjay Jha said the company would invest $10 billion between 2014 and 2015 to develop 10 nanometer, 14 nanometer and radio-frequency technologies.

Read the full article here.

What does the future hold for IBM? Connect with us to join us in the discussion.

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