An X-ray flash illuminates a molecule. Credit: Raphael Jay
Topics: Chemistry, Climate Change, Green Tech, High Energy Physics, Research, X-rays
The use of short flashes of X-ray light brings scientists one big step closer to developing better catalysts to transform the greenhouse gas methane into a less harmful chemical. The result, published in the journal Science, reveals for the first time how carbon-hydrogen bonds of alkanes break and how the catalyst works in this reaction.
Methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, is being released into the atmosphere at an increasing rate by livestock farming as well as the continuing unfreezing of permafrost. Transforming methane and longer-chain alkanes into less harmful and, in fact, useful chemicals would remove the associated threats and, in turn, make a huge feedstock for the chemical industry available. However, transforming methane necessitates, as a first step, the breaking of a C-H bond, one of the strongest chemical linkages in nature.
Forty years ago, molecular metal catalysts were discovered that can easily split C-H bonds. The only thing found to be necessary was a short flash of visible light to “switch on” the catalyst, and, as by magic, the strong C-H bonds of alkanes passing nearby are easily broken almost without using any energy. Despite the importance of this so-called C-H activation reaction, it remained unknown over the decades how that catalyst performs this function.
The research was led by scientists from Uppsala University in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, Stockholm University, Hamburg University, and the European XFEL in Germany. For the first time, the scientists were able to directly watch the catalyst at work and reveal how it breaks those C-H bonds.
In two experiments conducted at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland, the researchers were able to follow the delicate exchange of electrons between a rhodium catalyst and an octane C-H group as it gets broken. Using two of the most powerful sources of X-ray flashes in the world, the X-ray laser SwissFEL and the X-ray synchrotron Swiss Light Source, the reaction could be followed all the way from the beginning to the end. The measurements revealed the initial light-induced activation of the catalyst within 400 femtoseconds (0.0000000000004 seconds) to the final C-H bond breaking after 14 nanoseconds (0.000000014 seconds).
Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Civilization, Democracy, Existentialism, Fascism, Human Rights
But beyond him being (obviously) a genocidal maniac, there’s an aspect to Hitler’s rule that kind of gets missed in our standard view of him. Even if popular culture has long enjoyed turning him into an object of mockery, we still tend to believe that the Nazi machine was ruthlessly efficient and that the great dictator spent most of his time…well, dictating things.
So it’s worth remembering that Hitler was actually an incompetent, lazy egomaniac, and his government was an absolute clown show.
In fact, this may even have helped his rise to power, as he was consistently underestimated by the German elite. Before he became chancellor, many of his opponents had dismissed him as a joke for his crude speeches and tacky rallies. Even after elections had made the Nazis the largest party in the Reichstag, people still kept thinking that Hitler was an easy mark, a blustering idiot who could easily be controlled by smart people.
Why did the elites of Germany so consistently underestimate Hitler? Possibly because they weren’t actually wrong in their assessment of his competency—they just failed to realize that this wasn’t enough to stand in the way of his ambition. As it would turn out, Hitler was really bad at running a government. As his own press chief Otto Dietrich later wrote in his memoir The Hitler I Knew, “In the twelve years of his rule in Germany, Hitler produced the biggest confusion in government that has ever existed in a civilized state.”
His government was constantly in chaos, with officials having no idea what he wanted them to do, and nobody was entirely clear who was actually in charge of what. He procrastinated wildly when asked to make difficult decisions and would often end up relying on gut feeling, leaving even close allies in the dark about his plans. His “unreliability had those who worked with him pulling out their hair,” as his confidant Ernst Hanfstaengl later wrote in his memoir Zwischen Weißem und Braunem Haus. This meant that rather than carrying out the duties of state, they spent most of their time in-fighting and back-stabbing each other in an attempt to either win his approval or avoid his attention altogether, depending on what mood he was in that day.
Axios has obtained leaked private schedules of President Donald Trump showing how he’s spent his time over the past three months. According to the leaked schedules, our president has spent 60% of his “working” hours since the midterms in unstructured “Executive Time.”
Executive Time is supposed to consist of time in the Oval Office, but Trump wakes before 6 a.m. and doesn’t leave the residence for five hours. He spends that time, according to Axios, “watching TV, reading the papers, and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials, and informal advisers.” And, we can safely assume, tweeting like a madman.
Then, usually around 11:00 or 11:30 a.m., the president finally gets off his ass and actually does some work, attending an intelligence briefing with his chief of staff. The idea for Executive Time, which during the three months the leaked schedules totaled 297 hours, came from former chief of staff John Kelly because of Trump’s disdain for regular schedules.
Democracies require informed citizens. “Democracies did not originate with the founding of the United States. The term ‘democracy’ comes from two Greek words: “demos” (the people) and “”kratia” (power or authority). So, of course, DEMOCRACY is a form of government that gives power to the people. But how, when, and to which people? The answer to those questions changes through history.” See: https://www.ushistory.org/gov/1c.asp
Fascism has a self-built mythology of efficiency that generations of psychopaths have used gaslighting by pamphlet to the Internet to convince rubes and middle-of-the-road citizens that they’re “stable geniuses.” News flash: They’re not.
Fascism as a term didn’t come into vogue until Benito Mussolini in Italy. Prior to that, Jim Crow, black codes, and the Confederate South were all the foundations Mussolini based his philosophies on. Nazi Germany based its treatment of the Jews on Jim Crow, American black codes, and the Eugenics movement (which they put on steroids).
Fascism is the parent “ism” of every one of the “isms” that’s used to classify, objectify, demoralize, and categorize humans into this unmoveable hierarchy where the fascists/psychopaths have put themselves on the top: 1. They think they deserve it because of some “magical formula” that’s varied from “it’s God’s will” and evolution, post-Darwin, post-Nietzche. The formula is fungible so long as the outcome is the same. 2. The inherent “inferiority” of anyone else who isn’t a fascist/psychopath. 3. Anyone with a three-pound functional brain that can read history and reason for themselves is “woke.” America had black people. India, under the Caste system, had Dalets: the pariahs, the untouchables. Nazy Germany had Jews. Russia has Ukraine, which at this moment is destroying all of its delusions of superiority.
Fascism puts everything in the lap of the “dear leader.” Thus the responsibility for the government running efficiently, or running like a crap show, is the. “dear leader’s.” That way, when everything GOES to crap, it’s the leader’s fault, not the citizens. Since he is the source of “truth,” they await to hear, by pronouncement, tweet, or “truth social.”
“The past was alterable. The past never had been altered. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” George Orwell, “1984”
German citizens, post-1945, claimed to “not know” anything about the atrocities. As Dumbo Gambino appears to be careening toward federal indictments, what will be the excuse in a post-MAGA world (if we ever get to a post-MAGA world)?
But since all you have to do to have a democracy is, well, inform your citizens, how would governments distract them?
The term “smartphone” was not coined until a year after the introduction of the Simon, appearing in print as early as 1995, describing AT&T’s PhoneWriter Communicator. The term “smartphone” was first used by Ericsson in 1997 to describe a new device concept, the GS88.
Abstract The use of smartphones has been increasing worldwide. Usage of these devices has been associated with addiction and adverse emotional states. This study employs a mixed methods approach to study these relationships in an Australian sample. The study comprised 164 participants aged between 18–70 who completed the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale, the Smartphone Addiction Scale, and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. Seven participants were also interviewed, providing answers of a qualitative nature. Smartphone addiction significantly predicted higher levels of smartphone usage. Additionally, smartphone addiction and distractibility also significantly predicted higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Qualitative results identified themes such as convenience, time of the day, and activities in relation to smartphone usage as well as short‐and long‐term effects of this usage. Findings indicated that both distraction and addiction have an influence on the use of smartphones and that increased usage has detrimental consequences for emotional health. Themes such as dependence and temptation, and interferences appear congruent and consistent with the results of the scales used.
Smartphone addiction, sometimes colloquially known as “nomophobia” (fear of being without a mobile phone), is often fueled by an internet overuse problem or internet addiction disorder. After all, it’s rarely the phone or tablet itself that creates the compulsion, but rather the games, apps, and online worlds it connects us to.Health Guide
Prof. Li Gang invented a novel technique to achieve breakthrough efficiency with organic solar cells. Credit: Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Topics: Chemistry, Green Tech, Materials Science, Photonics, Research, Solar Power
Researchers from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have achieved a breakthrough power-conversion efficiency (PCE) of 19.31% with organic solar cells (OSCs), also known as polymer solar cells. This remarkable binary OSC efficiency will help enhance these advanced solar energy device applications.
The PCE, a measure of the power generated from a given solar irradiation, is considered a significant benchmark for the performance of photovoltaics (PVs), or solar panels, in power generation. The improved efficiency of more than 19% that was achieved by the PolyU researchers constitutes a record for binary OSCs, which have one donor and one acceptor in the photoactive layer.
Led by Prof. Li Gang, Chair Professor of Energy Conversion Technology, and Sir Sze-Yen Chung, Endowed Professor in Renewable Energy at PolyU, the research team invented a novel OSC morphology-regulating technique by using 1,3,5-trichlorobenzene as a crystallization regulator. This new technique boosts OSC efficiency and stability.
The team developed a non-monotonic intermediated state manipulation (ISM) strategy to manipulate the bulk-heterojunction (BHJ) OSC morphology and simultaneously optimize the crystallization dynamics and energy loss of non-fullerene OSCs. Unlike the strategy of using traditional solvent additives, which is based on excessive molecular aggregation in films, the ISM strategy promotes the formation of more ordered molecular stacking and favorable molecular aggregation. As a result, the PCE was considerably increased, and the undesirable non-radiative recombination loss was reduced. Notably, non-radiative recombination lowers the light generation efficiency and increases heat loss.
Bio-inspired robots, robotic systems that emulate the appearance, movements, and/or functions of specific biological systems, could help to tackle real-world problems more efficiently and reliably. Over the past two decades, roboticists have introduced a growing number of these robots, some of which draw inspiration from fruit flies, worms, and other small organisms.
Researchers at China University of Petroleum (East China) recently developed a worm-inspired robot with a body structure that is based on the oriental paper-folding art of origami. This robotic system, introduced in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, is based on actuators that respond to magnetic forces, compressing and bending its body to replicate the movements of worms.
“Soft robotics is a promising field that our research group has been paying a lot of attention to,” Jianlin Liu, one of the researchers who developed the robot, told Tech Xplore. “While reviewing the existing research literature in the field, we found that bionic robots, such as worm-inspired robots, were a topic worth exploring. We thus set out to fabricate a worm-like origami robot based on the existing literature. After designing and reviewing several different structures, we chose to focus on a specific knitting pattern for our robot.”
This map predicts how air pollution with fine particles will be in the future – according to Ulas Im’s computer simulation. The blue-colored areas show where the pollution is worst. Green is a little better, and yellow means almost no pollution. Credit: Journal for Environmental Research
Topics: Civilization, Environment, Existentialism
For many years now, we have known that air pollution is bad for our health. For example, American researchers have found that you have a 20% higher risk of dying prematurely if you live next to a big road.
In recent years, many countries—especially Western countries—have spent time and effort to come up with solutions to reduce air pollution. Particle filters and phasing out the use of the most polluting energy sources have helped. In Denmark, emissions of fine particles have been reduced by 48% since 1990.
But despite this progress, [even] more people will die prematurely from particulate air pollution in the future, according to model calculations performed by Ulas Im, Department of Environmental Science at Aarhus University, in collaboration with NASA.
Together, Im and NASA have developed a global model for air pollution that includes climate change, particle emission reduction measures, and changes in population composition. The model depicts a bleak future, especially for the countries in Asia.
“Even if they reduce air pollution significantly in Asia, the mortality rate will still be high. This is because their populations are aging. And you become more vulnerable to pollution with age,” Ulas Im says.
Extremely complicated calculations
Ulas Im from Aarhus University and NASA have come together in this project because both institutions have unique technology that—if combined—offers entirely new possibilities and perspectives.
The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York has one of the most advanced climate models in the world, and Aarhus University has one of the best computer models for how air pollution affects human health.
By creating a hybrid of the two models and running the new model through Aarhus University’s supercomputer, Ulas Im and his partners from NASA could create three scenarios for how air pollution will affect human health in the future.
“We fed the model with three different scenarios: one in which most of the world continues to regulate and try to limit air pollution; one in which we do even more than we do today; and finally, one in which we do less,” he says.
But even in the most optimistic of the three scenarios, the result turned out to be bleak, especially for Asia.
“Although China has done much to reduce air pollution in recent decades, air pollution will have a dire impact in the future, even if they step up their efforts. This is because of their aging population. A greater share of the population will simply be more vulnerable,” he says.
Magnet row of the ALPS experiment in the HERA tunnel: In this part of the magnets, intense laser light is reflected back and forth, from which axions are supposed to form. Credit: DESY, Marta Maye
Topics: Dark Matter, Materials Science, Particle Physics, Quantum Mechanics
The ALPS (Any Light Particle Search) experiment, which stretches a total length of 250 meters, is looking for a particularly light type of new elementary particle. Using twenty-four recycled superconducting magnets from the HERA accelerator, an intense laser beam, precision interferometry, and highly sensitive detectors, the international research team wants to search for these so-called axions or axion-like particles.
Such particles are believed to react only extremely weakly with known kinds of matter, which means they cannot be detected in experiments using accelerators. ALPS is therefore resorting to an entirely different principle to detect them: in a strong magnetic field, photons—i.e., particles of light—could be transformed into these mysterious elementary particles and back into [light] again.
“The idea for an experiment like ALPS has been around for over 30 years. By using components and the infrastructure of the former HERA accelerator, together with state-of-the-art technologies, we are now able to realize ALPS II in an international collaboration for the first time,” says Beate Heinemann, Director of Particle Physics at DESY.
Helmut Dosch, Chairman of DESY’s Board of Directors, adds, “DESY has set itself the task of decoding matter in all its different forms. So ALPS II fits our research strategy perfectly, and perhaps it will push open the door to dark matter.”
The ALPS team sends a high-intensity laser beam along a device called an optical resonator in a vacuum tube, approximately 120 meters in length, in which the beam is reflected backward and forwards and is enclosed by twelve HERA magnets arranged in a straight line. If a photon were to turn into an axion in the strong magnetic field, that axion could pass through the opaque wall at the end of the line of magnets.
Once through the wall, it would enter another magnetic track almost identical to the first. Here, the [axion] could then change back into a photon, which would be captured by the detector at the end. A second optical resonator is set up here to increase the probability of an [axion[ turning back into a photon by a factor of 10,000.
This means if [light] does arrive behind the wall, it must have been an axion in between. “However, despite all our technical tricks, the probability of a photon turning into an axion and back again is very small,” says DESY’s Axel Lindner, project leader and spokesperson of the ALPS collaboration, “like throwing 33 dice and them all coming up the same.”
In order for the experiment to actually work, the researchers had to tweak all the different components of the apparatus to maximum performance. The light detector is so sensitive that it can detect a single photon per day. The precision of the system of mirrors for the light is also record-breaking: the distance between the mirrors must remain constant to within a fraction of an atomic diameter relative to the wavelength of the laser.
Summary of Terrorism-Related Threat to the United States
The United States remains in a heightened threat environment. Lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances continue to pose a persistent and lethal threat to the Homeland. Both domestic violent extremists (DVEs) and those associated with foreign terrorist organizations continue to attempt to motivate supporters to conduct attacks in the Homeland, including through violent extremist messaging and online calls for violence. In the coming months, factors that could mobilize individuals to commit violence include their perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues. Likely targets of potential violence include US critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, individuals or events associated with the LGBTQIA+ community, schools, racial and ethnic minorities, and government facilities and personnel, including law enforcement.
Issued: May 24, 2023, at 2:00 PM ET
Expires: November 24, 2023, at 2:00 PM ET
Roads, bridges, mall outlets, power stations; churches, mosques, synagogues, temples; drag shows, pride parades, nightclubs; K-12, community colleges and universities; every BIPOC, even those like the gunman in Allen, Texas, who was Hispanic and sympathized with white supremacist propaganda enough to kill; the Post Office, Police Departments, the FBI; and where you and I work.
A Big Lie about an election that was lost, not RIGGED, has put a target on all of our backs. Our so-called representatives only offer “thoughts and prayers” after every gun massacre, but will not propose legislation, will not even propose liability insurance, like the kind we have on cars, for the small percentage of us that insists on collecting arsenals. It’s as if they WANT this “American carnage” to usher in something darker, like Kristallnacht, like fascism. America was a refuge for Stephen Miller’s grandfather and Albert Einstein during the Nazi pogroms. Will Canada be a refuge for American Christian nationalist pogroms?
Here’s some thoughts I’ve been mulling for a while, and I would like to forward them now:
One: Fascism doesn’t stop with your favorite “out-group.”
I have African American friends in my community that use the Bible to legitimize their bigotry toward LGBTQ+ people. My own epiphany happened during a diversity class in the 1990s when the professor asked one of the attendees a question: “Mr. _______, do you CARE where Mr. ______’s spermatozoa are deposited tonight?”
The second Mr. ______ is me, to whom the blunt and salacious question was directed. The technique was to make the first man think: are you overconcerned with his sexual practices? My oldest son was 11, and my youngest son was 1 at the time. Continuing the thought experiment: Does it matter to your heterosexual relationship? If it does, either you or your wife is closeted. James Baldwin was a close friend of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lorraine Hansberry, author of “A Raisin in the Sun,” was a closeted lesbian due to the times. Pauli Murray was also a closeted lesbian, lawyer, and civil rights activist. Bayard Rustin, a gay man, was one of Dr. King’s closest advisors and the chief organizer of the March on Washington in August 1963. See SPLC: Learning for Justice.
Two: Everyone needs a “green book” plan.
My mother graduated from a school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for “Practical Nursing,” similar to an Associate’s Degree now. She. and my father used a green book, a guide to let them know on long trips where to get gas, where to stop to eat, where to go to the bathroom, and where to sleep. In the 1950s, they NEEDED this to get from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Philly and BACK. It worked because otherwise, I would not be typing this blog. Our risk is not due to a preponderance of Melanin only. It is all public places now.
Do you speak another language? Is your passport current or expired? Part of our “green book” may be in formulating an exit plan. When all “hell is breaking loose,” it’s a little late.
Three: The State owning women’s bodies is fascism.
The Nazi regime encouraged the birth of children deemed “racially valuable” in order to increase Germany’s “Aryan” population. This campaign closely reflected the regime’s racial ideology and theories of eugenics. The Lebensborn program was designed by the SS to increase Germany’s declining birthrate. It was originally intended to provide pregnant “Aryan” women with financial assistance, adoption services, and a series of private maternity homes where they could give birth. By the end of World War II, Lebensborn became involved in the Nazi regime’s systematic kidnapping of thousands of “biologically valuable” foreign children to be raised in German homes. Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
In Russia, they are kidnapping Ukrainian children and spiriting them to Moscow. In America, six anti-Christian Mullahs overturned 50 years of precedent to induce forced births because of a demographic that is itself a chimera: if so-called “white” people had its origin in the Bacon’s Rebellion of 1681, codified in the first Census of 1790, counting “free whites, all other free persons, and slaves,” The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, barring their immigration to the United States for ten years, all categories of humans in the United States are the product of government fiat to justify hierarchy for the purpose of theft from the masses. Dr. Alan Goodman said “race is the power of an illusion.” For the Christian nationalists: “And He has made from one BLOOD every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,” Acts 17:26. Therefore, you cannot be “replaced” if you never really existed beyond being a variation of humans. This was the first Big Lie.
Four: Vote early; don’t show bumper stickers, flags, or paraphernalia.
In Austin, Texas, during the 2008 elections, a neighbor was such an Obama fan he paid $5,000 for him and his wife to shake the future president’s hand. He had as large a banner touting Obama-Biden on his front lawn as our neighbor (nearer me) did for the 2004 election with Bush-Cheney. The Obama-Biden sign was vandalized with the n-word and swastikas; nothing happened to Bush-Cheney (there’s a double entendre in there). Ahem: This happened in the waning days of the “compassionate conservatism” era, the gateway drug before Christian nationalism.
It’s obvious the incident was instructive to me. I give to the party I see upholding The Constitution, but I don’t sport the “swag.” Some might derisively call what I’m suggesting “respectability politics.” I have called it survival for my many trips around the sun, here billions of years before my birth, and will be here billions more after my death.
I appreciate the Department of Homeland Security’s warning, but I’ve been aware of this extremism since before one of the political parties nominated and elected a demagogue.
I have been on this Earth for sixty-one years. As a black man, I have never felt “free.”
The disinfectant powder is stirred in bacteria-contaminated water (upper left). The mixture is exposed to sunlight, which rapidly kills all the bacteria (upper right). A magnet collects the metallic powder after disinfection (lower right). The powder is then reloaded into another beaker of contaminated water, and the disinfection process is repeated (lower left). (Image credit: Tong Wu/Stanford University)
When exposed to sunlight, a low-cost, recyclable powder can kill thousands of waterborne bacteria per second. Stanford and SLAC scientists say the ultrafast disinfectant could be a revolutionary advance for 2 billion people worldwide without access to safe drinking water.
At least 2 billion people worldwide routinely drink water contaminated with disease-causing microbes.
Now, scientists at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have invented a low-cost, recyclable powder that kills thousands of waterborne bacteria per second when exposed to ordinary sunlight. The discovery of this ultrafast disinfectant could be a significant advance for nearly 30 percent of the world’s population with no access to safe drinking water, according to the Stanford and SLAC team. Their results are published in a May 18 study in Nature Water.
“Waterborne diseases are responsible for 2 million deaths annually, the majority in children under the age of 5,” said study co-lead author Tong Wu, a former postdoctoral scholar of materials science and engineering (MSE) at the Stanford School of Engineering. “We believe that our novel technology will facilitate revolutionary changes in water disinfection and inspire more innovations in this exciting interdisciplinary field.”
Conventional water-treatment technologies include chemicals, which can produce toxic byproducts, and ultraviolet light, which takes a relatively long time to disinfect and requires a source of electricity.
The new disinfectant developed at Stanford is a harmless metallic powder that works by absorbing both UV and high-energy visible light from the sun. The powder consists of nano-size flakes of aluminum oxide, molybdenum sulfide, copper, and iron oxide.
“We only used a tiny amount of these materials,” said senior author Yi Cui, the Fortinet Founders Professor of MSE and of Energy Science & Engineering in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. “The materials are low cost and fairly abundant. The key innovation is that, when immersed in water, they all function together.”
The LRESE parabolic dish: the solar reactor converts solar energy to hydrogen with an efficiency of more than 20%, producing around 0.5 kg of “green” hydrogen per day. (Courtesy: LRESE EPFL)
Topics: Applied Physics, Energy, Environment, Research, Solar Power
A new solar-radiation-concentrating device produces “green” hydrogen at a rate of more than 2 kilowatts while maintaining efficiencies above 20%. The pilot-scale device, which is already operational under real sunlight conditions, also produces usable heat and oxygen, and its developers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland say it could be commercialized in the near future.
The new system sits on a concrete foundation on the EPFL campus and consists of a parabolic dish seven meters in diameter. This dish collects sunlight over a total area of 38.5 m2, concentrates it by a factor of about 1000, and directs it onto a reactor that comprises both photovoltaic and electrolysis components. Energy from the concentrated sunlight generates electron-hole pairs in the photovoltaic material, which the system then separates and transports to the integrated electrolysis system. Here, the energy is used to “split” water that is pumped through the system at an optimal rate, producing both oxygen and hydrogen.
Putting it together at scale
Each of these processes has, of course, been demonstrated before. Indeed, the new EPFL system, which is described in Nature Energy, builds on previous research from 2019, when the EPFL team demonstrated the same concept at a laboratory scale using a high-flux solar simulator. However, the new reactor’s solar-to-hydrogen efficiency and hydrogen production rate of around 0.5 kg per day is unprecedented in large-scale devices. The reactor also produces usable heat at a temperature of 70°C.
The versatility of the new system forms a big part of its commercial appeal, says Sophia Haussener, who leads the EPFL’s Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering (LRESE). “This co-generation system could be used in industrial applications such as metal processing and fertilizer manufacturing,” Haussener tells Physics World. “It could also be used to produce oxygen for use in hospitals and hydrogen for fuels cells in electric vehicles, as well as heat in residential settings for heating water. The hydrogen produced could also be converted to electricity after being stored between days or even inter-seasonally.”
Modified wood modulates electrical current: researchers at Linköping University, together with colleagues from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, have developed the world’s first electrical transistor made of wood. (Courtesy: Thor Balkhed)
Topics: Applied Physics, Biomimetics, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science, Research
Researchers in Sweden have built a transistor out of a plank of wood by incorporating electrically conducting polymers throughout the material in a way that retains space for an ionically conductive electrolyte. The new technique makes it possible, in principle, to use wood as a template for numerous electronic components, though the Linköping University team acknowledges that wood-based devices cannot compete with traditional circuitry on speed or size.
Led by Isak Engquist of Linköping’s Laboratory for Organic Electronics, the researchers began by removing the lignin from a plank of balsa wood (chosen because it is grainless and evenly structured) using a NaClO2 chemical and heat treatment. Since lignin typically constitutes 25% of wood, removing it creates considerable scope for incorporating new materials into the structure that remains.
The researchers then placed the delignified wood in a water-based dispersion of an electrically conducting polymer called poly(3,4-ethylene-dioxythiophene)–polystyrene sulfonate, or PEDOT: PSS. Once this polymer diffuses into the wood, the previously insulating material becomes a conductor with an electrical conductivity of up to 69 Siemens per meter – a phenomenon the researchers attribute to the formation of PEDOT: PSS microstructures inside the 3D wooden “scaffold.”
Next, Engquist and colleagues constructed a transistor using one piece of this treated balsa wood as a channel and additional pieces on either side to form a double transistor gate. They also soaked the interface between the gates and channels in an ion-conducting gel. In this arrangement, known as an organic electrochemical transistor (OECT), applying a voltage to the gate(s) triggers an electrochemical reaction in the channel that makes the PEDOT molecules non-conducting and therefore switches the transistor off.