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Gizmorama - August 28, 2017

Good Morning,

The promise of a safer alternative to lithium ion batteries, thy name is magnesium batteries. Read the first article, it'll make more sense.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Scientists make breakthrough in magnesium batteries --*

A new study by the University of Houston offers promise for the use of magnesium batteries as a safer alternative to problem-plagued lithium ion batteries.

High voltage lithium ion batteries are the current standard but they are expensive and can develop breaches in their internal structure, known as dendrite growths, causing them to catch on fire, which has become an increasing problem.

Magnesium batteries have lower voltage than lithium ion batteries, about one volt compared to the three or four volts in lithium batteries. Magnesium ,however, is an earth-abundant resource making it cheaper, and it does not form dendrites.

The development of magnesium batteries has been held back by the need for a better cathode, the electrode the current flows from, and better electrolytes.

The study, published today in Nature Communications, uncovered a new design for a magnesium battery cathode, significantly increasing the storage capacity and changing conventional wisdom that the magnesium-chloride bond must be broken prior to inserting magnesium into the host.

"We are combining a nanostructured cathode and a new understanding of the magnesium electrolyte," Yan Yao, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston, said in a press release. "That's new."

The battery stores energy by inserting magnesium monochloride into a host such as titanium disulfide. The cathode showed much faster diffusion by retaining the magnesium-chloride bond when compared to traditional magnesium versions.

The new battery has the storage capacity of 400 mAh/g compared with 100 mAh/g for earlier magnesium batteries. Commercial lithium ion batteries have a cathode capacity of 200 mAh/g.

"Combined theoretical modeling, spectroscopic analysis, and electrochemical study reveal fast diffusion kinetics of magnesium monochloride cations without scission of magnesium chloride bond," the researchers wrote in the study. "The large capacity accompanies excellent rate and cycling performances even at room temperature, opening up possibilities for a variety of effective intercalation hosts for multivalent-ion batteries."

"We hope this is a general strategy," Yoo said. "Inserting various polyatomic ions in higher voltage hosts, we eventually aim to create higher-energy batteries at a lower price, especially for electric vehicles."

*-- Researchers find more efficient method of monitoring network traffic --*

Researchers at MIT, Cisco Systems and Barefoot Networks have developed a new way to monitor network traffic that gives more flexibility and efficiency.

"There's this big movement toward making routers programmable and making the hardware itself programmable," Mohammad Alizadeh, the TIBCO Career Development assistant professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, said in a press release. "So we were really motivated to think about what this would mean for network-performance monitoring and measurement. What would I want to be able to program into the router to make the task of the network operator easier?

"We realized that it's going to be very difficult to try to figure this out by picking out some measurement primitives or algorithms that we know of and saying, here's a module that will allow you to do this, here's a module that will allow you to do that. It would be difficult to get something that's future-proof and general using that approach."

Researchers have developed a way to approach network monitoring that provides flexibility in data collection while still keeping both the circuit complexity of the router and the number of external analytic servers low.

The system, called Marple, consists of a programming language that allows network operators to specify a range of network-monitoring tasks and a small set of simple circuit elements that can execute any task specified in the language.

Marple is designed to individually monitor the transmissions of each computer sending data via a router. This translates to more than 1 million connections, where a typical router can only store statistics of 64,000 connections.

The system is able to monitor so many more transmissions through a variation on the common computer science technique of caching, where it kicks out old data for new once the data limit is reached.

"We found that for operations where it wasn't immediately clear how they'd be written in this form, there was always a way to rewrite them into this form," Srinivas Narayana, of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said. "So it turns out to be a fairly useful class of operations, practically."

The research was presented recently at the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Data Communication.


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