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Machine learning used to up-cycle waste carbon

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 22 May 2020

Researchers at University of Toronto Engineering and Carnegie Mellon University are using artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate progress in transforming waste carbon into a commercially valuable product with record efficiency.

They leveraged AI to speed up the search for the key material in a new catalyst that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) into ethylene -- a chemical precursor to a wide range of products, from plastics to dish detergent.

The resulting electrocatalyst is the most efficient in its class. If run using wind or solar power, the system also provides an efficient way to store electricity from these renewable but intermittent sources.

"Using clean electricity to convert CO2 into ethylene, which has a $60 billion global market, can improve the economics of both carbon capture and clean energy storage," says Professor Ted Sargent, one of the senior authors on a new paper published today in Nature.

Chandralekha Singh Becomes President of AAPT

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 15 May 2020

​​​​​​​During the 2020 Winter Meeting in Orlando, Florida, the presidential gavel was presented to Dr. Chandralekha Singh. She will serve as President of the American Association of Physics Teachers for the coming year. Singh, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Founding Director of the Discipline-based Science Education Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, has previously served on the AAPT Board of Directors as President-elect and Vice President.

Regarding her service to AAPT, Singh said, "This position comes with the opportunity to lead an organization that I revere and work with dedicated and enthusiastic colleagues who share my passion for enhancing the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching."

Batteries for Flying Cars

  • By Jenny Stein
  • 8 May 2020

Venkat Viswanathan, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at CMU, describes their latest paper in Nature Materials and the 5-year effort to understand electrodeposition instabilities at solid-solid interfaces, leading to high-performing lithium metal based batteries:

In the fall of 2015, we began exploring the role of mechanical properties in stabilizing lithium electrodeposition at solid-solid interfaces in solid state batteries. Previous results from an elegant linear stability analysis performed by Monroe and Newman suggested that solids with sufficiently large moduli could block dendrite growth due to the stabilizing role of the hydrostatic part of the stress.