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Researchers at Linköping University have developed a molecule that absorbs energy from sunlight and stores it in chemical bonds. A possible long-term use of the molecule is to capture solar energy efficiently and store it for later consumption.

Researchers develop molecule to store solar energy

Image credit: Pixabay (Free Pixabay license)

The Earth receives many times more energy from the sun than we humans can use. This energy is absorbed by solar energy facilities, but one of the challenges of solar energy is to store it efficiently, such that the energy is available when the sun is not shining. This led scientists at Linköping University to investigate the possibility of capturing and storing solar energy in a new molecule.

“Our molecule can take on two different forms: a parent form that can absorb energy from sunlight, and an alternative form in which the structure of the parent form has been changed and become much more energy-rich, while remaining stable. This makes it possible to store the energy in sunlight in the molecule efficiently”, says Bo Durbeej, professor of computational physics in the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology at Linköping University, and leader of the study.

The molecule belongs to a group known as “molecular photoswitches”. These are always available in two different forms, isomers, that differ in their chemical structures. The two forms have different properties, and in the case of the molecule developed by LiU researchers, this difference is in the energy content. The chemical structures of all photoswitches are influenced by light energy. This means that the structure, and thus the properties, of a photoswitch can be changed by illuminating it. One possible area of application for photoswitches is molecular electronics, in which the two forms of the molecule have different electrical conductivities. Another area is photopharmacology, in which one form of the molecule is pharmacologically active and can bind to a specific target protein in the body, while the other form is inactive.

It’s common in research that experiments are done first and theoretical work subsequently confirms the experimental results, but in this case the procedure was reversed. Bo Durbeej and his group work in theoretical chemistry, and conduct calculations and simulations of chemical reactions. This involves advanced computer simulations, which are performed on supercomputers at the National Supercomputer Centre, NSC, in Linköping. The calculations showed that the molecule the researchers had developed would undergo the chemical reaction they required, and that it would take place extremely fast, within 200 femtoseconds. Their colleagues at the Research Centre for Natural Sciences in Hungary were then able to build the molecule, and perform experiments that confirmed the theoretical prediction.

In order to store large amounts of solar energy in the molecule, the researchers have attempted to make the energy difference between the two isomers as large as possible. The parent form of their molecule is extremely stable, a property that within organic chemistry is denoted by saying that the molecule is “aromatic”. The basic molecule consists of three rings, each of which is aromatic. When it absorbs light, however, the aromaticity is lost, such that the molecule becomes much more energy-rich. The LiU researchers show in their study, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, that the concept of switching between aromatic and non-aromatic states of a molecule has a major potential in the field of molecular photoswitches.

“Most chemical reactions start in a condition where a molecule has high energy and subsequently passes to one with a low energy. Here, we do the opposite – a molecule that has low energy becomes one with high energy. We would expect this to be difficult, but we have shown that it is possible for such a reaction to take place both rapidly and efficiently”, says Bo Durbeej.

The researchers will now examine how the stored energy can be released from the energy-rich form of the molecule in the best way.

The research has received financial support from the Olle Engkvist Foundation, the Swedish Research Council, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and the National Research, Development and Innovation Office, Hungary. The National Supercomputer Centre, NSC, generously provided computing time.

The article:Photoinduced Changes in Aromaticity Facilitate Electrocyclization of Dithienylbenzene Switches”, Baswanth Oruganti, Péter Pál Kalapos, Varada Bhargav, Gábor London and Bo Durbeej, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 32, 13941–13953, published online 15 July 2020, doi: 10.1021/jacs.0c06327

Written by Karin Söderlund Leifler, Translated by George Farrants

Source: Linköping University




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Linux Foundation: Latest trends and most-needed skills for open source jobs

opensourcejobs102020

The Linux Foundation jobs report shares what recruiters are looking for and which technologies are in demand.

Hiring managers said in a recent survey by the Linux Foundation that cloud skills are what they need most.

Image: The Linux Foundation

Open source is still the leading software development environment for SMBs and the enterprise despite the current economic downturn and pandemic, according to the latest jobs report from The Linux Foundation. 

“2020 has been a difficult year for all of us, but it’s encouraging to see that open source continues to provide abundant opportunities,” said The Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin in a press release. “The Linux Foundation and our members will continue to work to provide technological advancements that benefit everyone while striving to make open source educational opportunities more accessible.”

SEE: Top 5 programming languages for systems admins to learn (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Open source software is continuing to gain ground in the enterprise. A recent Red Hat survey revealed that 86% of IT leaders say  the most innovative companies are using open source software. In that same survey, 77% of respondents said they plan to increase their use of open source software in the next 12 months. 

This is the eighth year The Linux Foundation has produced the open source jobs report, and this is the first time the foundation worked with edX to produce it. The last report was completed in 2018. The 2020 Open Source Jobs Report found, “a shift of priorities for hiring organizations towards cloud-native technologies and increasing use of open source solutions despite the severe challenges currently facing businesses and IT pros.”

Desired skill sets

Linux, DevOps, cloud and security are the top skill sets wanted from potential employees. Among hiring managers, 74% say that Linux is the most in-demand skill they’re seeking in new hires.

According to the report, 69% of employers want employees with cloud and containers experience, up from 64% in 2018. And 65% of companies want to hire more DevOps talent, up from 59% in 2018. The report shows that 63% percent of hiring managers want employees who can architect solutions based on open source software. Security is also important with 48% of companies wanting this skill set in potential employees. Other desirable skills are knowledge of new tools, experience using open source development tools like Git, experience running projects already in production, and people who have previously worked on open source projects. 

Most in-demand jobs

In 2018, 72% of companies were seeking to hire developers. In 2020, this has dropped to 59%. The most in-demand job is DevOps, with 65% of companies wanting to hire for this role, an increase from 59% in 2018. Engineers rank third, at 56%, and architects are at 41%. SysAdmins dropped to 35% in 2020, from 49% in 2018. The report theorizes this is because many SysAdmin roles evolved into DevOp ones. 

Trends in hiring for open source jobs

Additional findings from the report:

  • Among hiring managers, 81% said hiring open source talent is a priority for 2020, and they are more likely than ever to seek out pros with certifications. 
  • 56% of hiring managers plan to hire more open source professionals in the next six months compared to the last six months.
  • 57% of hiring managers said hiring certified professionals is a priority, which is a significant increase from 47% in 2018.
  • Finding sufficient talent with open source skills is difficult for 93% of hiring managers, up from 87% in 2018. 
  • Among employers, 57% say that training existing employees to gain necessary skills is the top tactic used in 2020. 
  • 70% of hiring managers say that employees have requested more open source training this year, compared to 64% in 2018.
  • 60% of professionals surveyed would like for employers to cover the cost of certifications, up from 47% in 2018.
  • 74% of hiring managers are willing to pay for certifications, up from 55% two years ago.
  • 88% of employers say their company proactivity encourages diversity, up from 79% two years ago. Among employees, 70% feel their companies are making an effort to encourage diversity, an increase from 60% in 2018.
  • 52% of companies surveyed say they activity recruit underrepresented individuals, an increase from 46% in 2018. 

Why open source is so crucial

Adam Medros, edX president and co-CEO, said open source professionals are key to tech advancements around the world. 

“We hope that the information in this report gives open source professionals a clear picture of the industry to inform their decisions around joining and creating teams, and informs organizations’ decisions around training and investing in their workers,” Medros said in a press release.

As with the last three Linux Foundation reports, the focus is on all aspects of open source software; the first four reports focused more specifically on Linux professionals.  

Survey methodology

edX and The Linux Foundation surveyed hiring managers and open source professionals from July 28 to Sept. 3, 2020. Hiring managers from corporations, SMBs, government organizations and staffing agencies were surveyed. More than 175 hiring managers responded. More than 900 open source professionals responded to a survey, with 74% indicating they’ve been working as an open source professional for three years or more. 

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Deep Unsupervised Drum Transcription | Technology Org

98eb066b1f9e26d3abc28b783398 1566055 drums

Deep learning-based models help to improve transcription systems. In this task, the score is estimated from the input audio. However, most of the current systems rely on supervised learning and require a large-scale annotated dataset.

A recent paper on arXiv.org suggests an unsupervised drum transcription system. It can test the estimation, measure the error, and correct itself, similarly to musicians learning to transcribe.

Deep Unsupervised Drum Transcription Technology Org

Drums. Image credit: floriansteffen via pxhere,com, CC0 Public Domain

During the experiments, the system achieved strong performance compared to current supervised and unsupervised approaches. It can be generalized to different datasets while maintaining high performance if the distribution of tracks by style is warranted. Thus, it can be used for real-life drum transcription tasks. Also, the system could be extended to other instruments and combined with instrument recognition.

We introduce DrummerNet, a drum transcription system that is trained in an unsupervised manner. DrummerNet does not require any ground-truth transcription and, with the data-scalability of deep neural networks, learns from a large unlabeled dataset. In DrummerNet, the target drum signal is first passed to a (trainable) transcriber, then reconstructed in a (fixed) synthesizer according to the transcription estimate. By training the system to minimize the distance between the input and the output audio signals, the transcriber learns to transcribe without ground truth transcription. Our experiment shows that DrummerNet performs favorably compared to many other recent drum transcription systems, both supervised and unsupervised.

Link: https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.03697




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Apple Confirms MagSafe Charger Could Leave Impression on iPhone 12 Cases

magsafe charger apple website 1603724440183

Apple’s MagSafe wireless charging feature launched along with iPhone 12 series earlier this month is expected to have far-reaching benefits that the likes of Moto Mods could not deliver. MagSafe is touted to be a game-changer for accessory makers, and a colourful array of magnetic cases, wallets, and chargers are already in the market. Apple has naturally created a new support page to inform users about how to best use their new gadgets and its cool magnetic charger. And among its few caveats is that the charger can leave a circular impression on some iPhone 12 cases and accessories.

The fact that the charger can leave its impression on iPhone 12 accessories gets a fine print mention on the Apple support page. It is especially irksome because Apple had glorified MagSafe’s capability of charging the phones with their covers on. And although the support page says that the potential issue is only with leather cases, a user had also shared a picture on MacRumors claiming that the MagSafe charger had left its circular impressions on a silicon case in just one day of use. It’s just been three days since the iPhone 12 was made available.

Apple has also warned users against placing things such as credit cards, security badges, passport, etc., between their phones and the MagSafe charger. It says this could damage the magnetic strips and RFID chips on the cards. The page also says that the new snap-on chargers might get warm and that the software might limit charging to 80 percent in case of overheating.

In another particularly damaging news for the iPhone 12 series launched on October 14, a report published by TechSina cites a blogger to claim that some iPhone 12 units on display at a store in China had their paints peeled off. The report featured pictures by the blogger to support the claim. Although, the launch of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro had a rush of people at stores in China on Friday, October 23, and the report speculated frequent touches to be the reason for the phone’s terrible condition.

Separately, tipster Max Weinbach said his new iPhone 12 Pro’s glass back had cracked for no apparent reason, though he received a replacement from Apple. In a more recent tweet, he noted scratches seen on demo units at a T-Mobile store.


Are iPhone 12 mini, HomePod mini the Perfect Apple Devices for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.



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