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Four Years of Science Blogging and Communicating Science!

I almost completely forgot that exactly four years ago today, I launched my blog crystalsandcatalysts.com! ๐ŸŽŠ
Four years ago! 

I've not been active on my blog lately, mainly because I'm working on my dissertation and my future career steps after my masters is finally over๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ˜ญ
Everything blog related is postponed till September, where I'll start blogging about what I've been working on in the past year (also dissertation tips) and things I wish I'd known before starting a masters degree. ๐ŸŽ“

In the meantime I thought I'd share with you, my most read blog posts, the ones you really enjoyed!

Starting off with a series on scientists: Scientist of the week 5: Elsie Widdowson

A bit of psychology... Why do we remember bad memories easier than good ones?

A recent-ish, STS themed post, asking the question: Are we as science communicators, doing our job?

A badly phrased question, to a really important answer: Does the public trust clinical trials?

One for the people who s…

ONE PARAGRAPH ON CANDY CANE SUPERCAPACITORS | ONE PARAGRAPH SCIENCE


Okay, I'm going to state it here first, there are no candy canes involved in the science behind these supercapacitors, it only looks like a candy cane. Scientists at QMUL have found a way to make the charging of phones and other devices much, much faster, with better capacities, more flexible and lasting performance. Current technologies don't tick all of the boxes that have just been listed, so a better solution is needed; that's where supercapacitors come in. Supercapacitors are mainly used to power electric and hybrid cars but they're slowly making their way into other technologies because of their ability to store more energy than the state-of-the-art battery. Supercapacitors are made up of two conducting plates, separated by a non-conducting material which can store more charge at a given voltage. The researchers at QMUL made a prototype of a candy-cane-shaped polymer supercapacitor where the nanostructures used to create the supercapacitor are interweaved within a bulk material, maintaining  "material toughness" and maintaining a larger surface area.  Project leader, Stoyan Smoukov, explained: "Our supercapacitors can store a lot of charge very quickly, because the thin active material (the conductive polymer) is always in contact with a second polymer which contains ions, just like the red thin regions of a candy cane are always in close proximity to the white parts. But this is on a much smaller scale. This interpenetrating structure enables the material to bend more easily, as well as swell and shrink without cracking, leading to greater longevity. This one method is like killing not just two, but three birds with one stone." This type of supercapacitor is now electrochemically resistant and can maintain performance over many charging cycles, unlike other types of capacitors which are prone to expanding and losing their efficiency. The scientists are not stopping there, they're currently researching other materials which can produce even better supercapacitors which could "power electronics embedded in smart clothing, wearable and implantable devices, and soft robotics". It's amazing how common, everyday shapes can influence technology and help us create better, more efficient capacitors/batteries for our technology.



References:

  1. Kara D. Fong, Tiesheng Wang, Hyun-Kyung Kim, R. Vasant Kumar, Stoyan K. Smoukov. Semi-Interpenetrating Polymer Networks for Enhanced Supercapacitor ElectrodesACS Energy Letters, 2017; 2014 DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.7b00466
  2. Queen Mary University of London. "Candy cane supercapacitor could enable fast charging of mobile phones." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170816100226.htm>.
  3. Materials and Quotations from QMUL: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/items/se/199334.html

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