The new method could be the key to designing more efficient batteries for specific uses, like electric cars and airplanes.
The future of mobility is electric cars, trucks and airplanes. But there is no way a single battery design can power that future. Even your cell phone and laptop batteries have different requirements and different designs. The batteries we will need over the next few decades will have to be tailored to their specific uses.
And that means understanding exactly what happens, as precisely as possible, inside each type of battery. Every battery works on the same principle: ions, which are atoms or molecules with an electrical charge, carry a current from the anode to the cathode through material called the electrolyte, and then back again. But their precise movement through that material, whether liquid or solid, has puzzled scientists for decades. Knowing exactly how different types of ions move through different types of electrolytes will help researchers figure out how to affect that movement, to create batteries that charge and discharge in ways most befitting their specific uses.
“We had to connect the dots before, and now we can directly detect the ions. There is no ambiguity.” — Venkat Srinivasan, deputy director, Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, Argonne National Laboratory
In a breakthrough discovery, a team of scientists has demonstrated a combination of techniques that allows for the precise measurement of ions moving through a battery. Using the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, these researchers have not only peered inside a battery as it operates, measuring the reactions in real time, but have opened the door to similar experiments with different types of batteries.
The researchers collaborated on this result with the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub led by Argonne. The team’s paper, which details velocities of lithium ions moving through a polymer electrolyte, was published in Energy and Environmental Science.
“This is a combination of different experimental methods to measure velocity and concentration, and then compare them both to theory,” said Hans-Georg Steinrück, professor at Paderborn University in Germany and the first author on the paper. “We showed this is possible, and now we will perform it on other systems that are different in nature.”
Those methods, performed at beamline 8-ID-I at the APS, included using ultra-bright X-rays to measure the velocity of the ions moving through the battery, and to simultaneously measure the concentration of ions within the electrolyte, while a model battery discharged. The research team then compared their results with mathematical models. Their result is an extremely accurate figure representing the current carried by ions — what is called the transport number.
The transport number is essentially the amount of current carried by positively charged ions in relation to the overall electric current, and the team’s calculations put that number at approximately 0.2. This conclusion differs from those derived by other methods, researchers said, due to the sensitivity of this new way of measuring ion movement.
The true value transport number has been the subject of some debate among scientists for years, according to Michael Toney, professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and an author on the paper. Toney and Steinrück were both staff scientists at the DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory when this research was conducted.
“The traditional way of measuring the transport number is to analyze the current,” Toney said. “But it was unknown how much of that current is due to lithium ions and how much is due to other things you don’t want in your analysis. The principle is easy, but we had to measure accurately. This was certainly a proof of concept.”
For this experiment the research team used a solid polymer electrolyte, instead of the liquid ones in wide use for lithium ion batteries. As Toney notes, polymers are safer, since they avoid the flammability issues of some liquid electrolytes.
Argonne’s Venkat Srinivasan, deputy director of JCESR and an author on the paper, has extensive experience modeling the reactions inside batteries, but this is the first time he’s been able to compare those models to real-time data on the movement of ions through an electrolyte.
“For years we wrote papers about what happens inside a battery, since we couldn’t see the things inside,” he said. “I always joked that whatever I said must be true, since we couldn’t confirm it. So for decades we have been looking for information like this, and it challenges people like me who have been making the predictions.”
In the past, Srinivasan said, the best way to research the inner workings of batteries was to send a current through them and then analyze what happened afterward. The ability to trace the ions moving in real time, he said, offers scientists a chance to change that movement to suit their battery design needs.
“We had to connect the dots before, and now we can directly detect the ions,” he said. “There is no ambiguity.”
Eric Dufresne, physicist with Argonne’s X-ray Science Division, was one of the APS scientists who worked on this project. An author on the paper, Dufresne said the experiment made use of the coherence available at the APS, allowing the research team to capture the effect they were looking for down to velocities of only nanometers per second.
“This is a very thorough and complex study,” he said. “It’s a nice example of combining X-ray techniques in a novel way, and a good step toward developing future applications.”
Dufresne and his colleagues also noted that these experiments will only improve once the APS undergoes an in-progress upgrade of its electron storage ring, which will increase the brightness of the X-rays it produces by up to 500 times.
“The APS Upgrade will allow us to push these dynamic studies to better than microseconds,” Dufresne said. “We will be able to focus the beam for smaller measurements and get through thicker materials. The upgrade will give us unique capabilities, and we will be able to do more experiments of this type.”
That’s a prospect that excites the research team. Steinrück said the next step is to analyze more complex polymers and other materials, and eventually into liquid electrolytes. Toney said he would like to examine ions from other types of material, like calcium and zinc.
Examining a diversity of materials, Srinivasan said, would be important for the eventual goal: batteries that are precisely designed for their individual uses.
“If we want to create high-energy, fast, safe, long-lasting batteries, we need to know more about ion motion,” he said. “We need to understand more about what happens inside a battery, and use that knowledge to design new materials from the bottom up.”
How to check if someone else accessed your Google account
Review your recent Gmail access, browser sign-in history, and Google account activity to make sure no one other than you has used your account.
Whenever a computer is out of your direct view and control, there’s always a chance that someone other than you can gain access. A person who returns from a trip might wonder if their computer and accounts have been accessed during their absence. A person might notice odd activity in Gmail, not aware that their password has been made public (or “pwned“). Or, in some cases, a person might be surveilled by a partner, a family member, a colleague, or even an unknown party.
To secure an account, you might first change your password, enable two-factor authentication, or even enroll in Google’s Advanced Protection Program. Those steps will help you secure your account. However, in cases where people are unsafe because of domestic abuse, these steps will likely not be encouraged by an abuser–help is available.
The following steps can help you figure out if someone, other than you, is accessing your Gmail or Google account.
SEE: Google Sheets: Tips and tricks (TechRepublic download)
Did someone access my Gmail account?
In a desktop web browser, Gmail allows you to review recent email access activity. Select Details in the lower-right area below displayed emails, below Last Account Activity (Figure A).
The system will show you information about the most recent 10 times your Gmail account has been accessed, along with the access type (browser, POP, mobile, etc.), location (IP address), and the date and time of access. This can help you identify if any of this access is from an unexpected device, place, or time.
Note: If you use a virtual private network or a hosted desktop, the location data may reflect information related to your service provider, instead of your physical address.
In a few cases, I’ve had clients concerned about access in an expected location, but at an unexpected time. Sometimes, this was simply because they’d left a computer on, with their browser or mail client open: The system could be configured to auto-check mail periodically. In one case, access occurred after a power outage. They’d configure the system to automatically power on after an outage, so it signed in and downloaded new mail shortly after power was restored.
Did someone access my browser?
In the Chrome browser–and on any Chromebook or Chrome OS device–press Ctrl+H to display browser history. Alternatively, type chrome://history in the omnibox, or select the three-vertical dot menu in the upper-right, then choose History | History. On macOS, press Command+Y. You may scroll through all available sites visited. Review these to see if any sites displayed are unexpected.
Additionally, you may enter search terms in the box displayed above the historical URLs listed. For example, search for “sign in,” or copy and paste this link into your browser omnibox: chrome://history/?q=sign%20in to display most site login pages (Figure B). Again, review the results for any sites you don’t expect. You might search for “gmail.com” as well.
Did someone access my Google account?
Go to https://myactivity.google.com/ to access your Google account history across all devices and Google services, such as YouTube, Google Maps, Google Play, and more (Figure C). Depending on your security settings, you may need to re-authenticate when you attempt to access this information. Again, review any recorded data to make sure it corresponds with your usage.
Similarly, go to https://myaccount.google.com/device-activity to review a list of devices to which you’ve signed in with your Google account (Figure D). You may select the three-vertical dots in the upper-right of any displayed devices, then choose Sign Out to prevent any future access without re-authentication on a device.
Go through Google’s Security Checkup (https://myaccount.google.com/security-checkup) for a step-by-step review of every item Google’s system identifies as a potential security issue (Figure E).
Use Google Workspace (formerly G Suite)? Ask an administrator for help.
If you use Gmail and Google Workspace as part of an organization (e.g., work or school), an administrator may be able to do additional review of your account access data. To do this, the administrator will need to sign in to the admin console at https://admin.google.com. From the Admin console, they might go to https://admin.google.com/ac/, select your account, then review security settings as well as connected apps and devices. Next, they might review all login information by going to the login report at https://admin.google.com/ac/reporting/audit/login, then filtering for your account (Figure F). Since this information is centrally logged by the system, access records will remain, even if the person accessing your account attempts to cover their tracks (e.g., by locally deleting browser history).
What’s your experience?
If you’ve wondered whether someone else has accessed your Google account, what steps have you taken? What did you learn when you completed the above access review of your Google account? Let me know any additional steps you suggest, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).
New computational method detects disrupted pathways in cancer
Cancer is a notoriously complex disease, in part because it may be caused by mutations among hundreds or even thousands of genes. In addition, most cancers exhibit an extraordinary amount of variation among genetic mutations, even between patients with the same types of cancers.
Consequently, cancer researchers have chosen to study interactions among groups of genes in certain biological pathways that are disrupted.
When genes in certain pathways are frequently mutated or disrupted, that pathway may play a critical role in the initiation or development of cancer. But unravelling the molecular mechanisms underlying those disruptions is extremely complex.
Nw, University at Buffalo researchers have developed a new, statistically more powerful method called FDRnet that can more effectively detect key functional pathways in cancer using genomics data generated by next-generation sequencing technology.
Published in Nature Computational Science, the new method has the potential to give biologists more precise data with which to zero in on therapeutic targets.
“Using the new method, we can find biological pathways in which genes are significantly mutated or disrupted,” explained Yijun Sun, PhD, associate professor of bioinformatics in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and the corresponding author. “It addresses some key challenges in molecular pathway analysis in cancer studies. Once the tumor biologists obtain this information, they can use it to verify our findings, and from there develop new cancer treatments,” he said.
“By overcoming the limitations of existing approaches, FDRnet can facilitate the detection of key functional pathways in cancer and other genetic diseases,” said Sun.
When Sun and his co-authors tested FDRnet on simulation data and on breast cancer and B-cell lymphoma data, they found that FDRnet was able to detect which subnetworks or pathways are significantly perturbed in these cancers, potentially leading tumour biologists to identify new therapeutic targets.
Tom & Jerry Release Date in India Set for February 19, a Week Before the US
Tom & Jerry will now release February 19 in cinemas in India, a full week earlier than originally announced. Warner Bros. India revealed the new release date on Thursday via its social media channels. That puts the Indian release date a week prior to the US, where Tom & Jerry releases February 26 on (US-exclusive streaming service) HBO Max and in cinemas. In India, the hybrid live-action/ animated Tom and Jerry movie will be available in English (the original language), in addition to three local-language dubs: Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
However, India won’t be the first market to catch the big-screen return of the iconic cat and mouse duo. Tom & Jerry premieres February 10 in Netherlands, followed by Brazil and Singapore on February 11. India is among the next wave of markets on February 19, alongside Iceland and Lithuania. Russia and Slovakia will follow on February 25, before Tom & Jerry arrives in the US on February 26. Argentina, Czechia, Croatia, and Portugal follow on March 4, with Spain and France release set for March 5. In the UK, Ireland, and Japan, Tom & Jerry is due March 19.
Of course, whether any of this goes according to plan depends on how the COVID-19 situation fares locally. For instance, around 65 percent of theatres remain closed in the US (including the major metropolitan hubs of New York and Los Angeles). Theatres are indefinitely shut across the UK where a third stringent nationwide lockdown is in effect. That is also the case in France, at least until the end of January. In Spain, cinemas are operating at 30–50 percent capacity. But while Americans have the option to watch Tom & Jerry at home (on HBO Max), others do not.
Tom & Jerry Hindi trailer
Tom & Jerry Tamil trailer
Tom & Jerry Telugu trailer
Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass) is the human lead as event planner Kayla opposite Tom and Jerry in the new movie, alongside the likes of Michael Peña (Ant-Man and the Wasp) the hotel’s deputy general manager Terrance, Rob Delaney (Catastrophe) as the hotel manager Mr. DuBros, Ken Jeong (Community) as the hotel chef Jackie, Colin Jost (Saturday Night Live) as wedding groom Ben, and Pallavi Sharda (Besharam) as the bride Preeta.
William Hanna, Mel Blanc, and June Foray provide vocal effects for Tom and Jerry through archival audio recordings. Hanna is the co-creator of Tom and Jerry along with Joseph Barbera. Tim Story (Ride Along) is directing Tom & Jerry off a script by Kevin Costello (Brigsby Bear). Tom & Jerry is a production of Warner Animation Group, Turner Entertainment Company, and The Story Company.
Here’s the official synopsis of Tom & Jerry, from Warner Bros.:
One of the most beloved rivalries in history is reignited when Jerry moves into New York City’s finest hotel on the eve of “the wedding of the century,” forcing the event’s desperate planner to hire Tom to get rid of him, in director Tim Story’s “Tom & Jerry.” The ensuing cat and mouse battle threatens to destroy her career, the wedding and possibly the hotel itself. But soon, an even bigger problem arises: a diabolically ambitious staffer conspiring against all three of them. An eye-popping blend of classic animation and live action, Tom and Jerry’s new big-screen adventure stakes new ground for the iconic characters and forces them to do the unthinkable… work together to save the day.
Tom & Jerry is out February 19 in India in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
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