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Concept: Michael Faraday


We have found that the addition of tin nanoparticles to a silicon-based anode provides dramatic improvements in performance in terms of both charge capacity and cycling stability. Using a simple procedure and off-the-shelf additives and precursors, we developed a structure in which the tin nanoparticles are segregated at the interface between the silicon-containing active layer and the solid electrolyte interface. Even a minor addition of tin, as small as ∼2% by weight, results in a significant decrease in the anode resistance, as confirmed by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. This leads to a decrease in charge transfer resistance, which prevents the formation of electrically inactive “dead spots” in the anode structure and enables the effective participation of silicon in the lithiation reaction.

Concepts: Cathode, Michael Faraday, Electrochemistry, Aluminium, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrode, Anode


Bioelectrochemical systems (BESs) enable recovery of electrical energy through oxidation of a wide range of substrates at an anode and simultaneous recovery of metals at a cathode. Scale-up of BESs from the laboratory to pilot scale is a challenging step in the development of the process, and there are only a few successful experiences to build on. This paper presents a prototype BES for the recovery of copper.

Concepts: Cathode, Michael Faraday, Zinc, Battery, Electrolyte, Electrolysis, Anode, Galvanic cell


The history of science is filled with examples of key discoveries and breakthroughs that have been published as landmark texts or journal papers, and to which one can trace the origins of whole disciplines. Such paradigm-shifting publications include Copernicus' De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543), Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) and Albert Einstein’s papers on relativity (1905 and 1915). Michael Faraday’s 1832 paper on electromagnetic induction sits proudly among these works and in a sense can be regarded as having an almost immediate effect in transforming our world in a very real sense more than any of the others listed. Here we review the status of the subject-the relationship between magnetism and electricity both before and after Faraday’s paper and delve into the details of the key experiments he carried out at the Royal Institution outlining clearly how he discovered the process of electromagnetic induction, whereby an electric current could be induced to flow through a conductor that experiences a changing magnetic field. His ideas would not only enable Maxwell’s later development of his theory of classical electromagnetism, but would directly lead to the development of the electric dynamo and electric motor, two technological advances that are the very foundations of the modern world. This commentary was written to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Michael Faraday, Magnetic field, Electricity, Maxwell's equations, Electrical generator, Isaac Newton, Royal Society


Cracks in solid-state materials are typically irreversible. Here we report electrically reversible opening and closing of nanoscale cracks in an intermetallic thin film grown on a ferroelectric substrate driven by a small electric field (~0.83 kV/cm). Accordingly, a nonvolatile colossal electroresistance on-off ratio of more than 108 is measured across the cracks in the intermetallic film at room temperature. Cracks are easily formed with low-frequency voltage cycling and remain stable when the device is operated at high frequency, which offers intriguing potential for next-generation high-frequency memory applications. Moreover, endurance testing demonstrates that the opening and closing of such cracks can reach over 107 cycles under 10-μs pulses, without catastrophic failure of the film.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Michael Faraday, Electric potential, Direct current, Alternating current, Faraday's law of induction


Our world is increasingly powered by electricity, which is largely converted to or from mechanical energy using electric motors. Several applications have driven the miniaturization of these machines, resulting in high rotational speeds. Although speeds of several hundred thousand revolutions per minute have been used industrially, we report the realization of an electrical motor reaching 40 million rpm to explore the underlying physical boundaries. Millimeter-scale steel spheres, which are levitated and accelerated by magnetic fields inside a vacuum, are used as a rotor. Circumferential speeds exceeding 1000 m/s and centrifugal accelerations of more than 4 × 108 times gravity were reached. The results open up new research possibilities, such as the testing of materials under extreme centrifugal load, and provide insights into the development of future electric drive systems.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Michael Faraday, Electric current, Torque, Frequency, Classical mechanics, Electrical engineering, Electric motor


Since Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry made their great discovery of electromagnetic induction, there have been continuous developments in electrical power generation. Most people today get electricity from thermal, hydroelectric, or nuclear power generation systems, which use this electromagnetic induction phenomenon. Here we propose a new method for electrical power generation, without using electromagnetic induction, by mechanically modulating the electrical double layers at the interfacial areas of a water bridge between two conducting plates. We find that when the height of the water bridge is mechanically modulated, the electrical double layer capacitors formed on the two interfacial areas are continuously charged and discharged at different phases from each other, thus generating an AC electric current across the plates. We use a resistor-capacitor circuit model to explain the results of this experiment. This observation could be useful for constructing a micro-fluidic power generation system in the near future.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Michael Faraday, Electricity, Nuclear power, Inductor, Inductance, Electrical generator


Site-selective sequential coupling reactions directed toward bis(diaryl)butadiynes are described. The reaction site could be controlled completely by the on/off application of electricity. The electro-oxidative homo-coupling of terminal alkynes (electricity ON) and the subsequent Suzuki-Miyaura coupling (electricity OFF) afforded bis(diaryl)butadiynes in high yields. The obtained 1,4-bis(diaryl)butadiynes could be converted to a 2,5-bis(diaryl)thiophene derivative, which exhibited blue fluorescence.

Concepts: Michael Faraday, Electric current, Electrochemistry, Alkyne, Heck reaction, Suzuki reaction, Sonogashira coupling, Cadiot-Chodkiewicz coupling


How to mitigate membrane fouling remains a critical challenge for widespread application of membrane bioreactors. Herein, an antifouling electrochemical membrane bioreactor (EMBR) was developed based on in-situ utilization of the generated electricity for fouling control. In this system, a maximum power density of 1.43 W/m(3) and a current density of 18.49 A/m(3) were obtained. The results demonstrate that the formed electric field reduced the deposition of sludge on membrane surface by enhancing the electrostatic repulsive force between them. The produced H2O2 at the cathode also contributed to the fouling mitigation by in-situ removing the membrane foulants. In addition, 93.7% chemical oxygen demand (COD) removal and 96.5% [Formula: see text] removal in average as well as a low effluent turbidity of below 2 NTU were achieved, indicating a good wastewater treatment performance of the EMBR. This work provides a proof-of-concept study of an antifouling MBR with high wastewater treatment efficiency and electricity recovery, and implies that electrochemical control might provide another promising avenue to in-situ suppress the membrane fouling in MBRs.

Concepts: Electromagnetism, Electric charge, Michael Faraday, Magnetic field, Electric current, Water pollution, Wastewater, Fouling


Acenes consist of linearly annulated benzene rings. Their reactivity increases quickly with increasing chain length. Therefore acenes longer than pentacene are very sensitive towards oxygen in the presence of light and thus these molecules have not been well studied or have remained elusive in spite of synthetic efforts dating back to the 1930s. This review gives an historical account of the development of the chemistry of acenes larger than pentacene and summarizes the recent progress in the field including strategies for stabilization of higher acenes up to nonacene.

Concepts: Michael Faraday, Molecule, Gasoline, Chemical substance, Benzene, Solvent, Distillation, 1930s


During the last few years, intensive research efforts have been directed toward the application of several highly efficient light-harvesting photosynthetic proteins, including reaction centers (RCs), photosystem I (PSI), and photosystem II (PSII), as key components in the light-triggered generation of fuels or electrical power. This review highlights recent advances for the nano-engineering of photo-bioelectrochemical cells through the assembly of the photosynthetic proteins on electrode surfaces. Various strategies to immobilize the photosynthetic complexes on conductive surfaces and different methodologies to electrically wire them with the electrode supports are presented. The different photoelectrochemical systems exhibit a wide range of photocurrent intensities and power outputs that sharply depend on the nano-engineering strategy and the electroactive components. Such cells are promising candidates for a future production of biologically-driven solar power.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Electric charge, Michael Faraday, Electricity, Photosystem, Photosystem I, Photosystem II, Photosynthetic reaction centre