Category Archives: Creativity

New Paper-like Material Could Boost Electric Vehicle Batteries

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in UCR Today on February 17, 2015.)

Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan, both professors in the Bourns College of Engineering. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan, both professors in the Bourns College of Engineering. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries. It has the potential to boost by several times the specific energy, or amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery.

This paper-like material is composed of sponge-like silicon nanofibers more than 100 times thinner than human hair. It could be used in batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics.

The findings were just published in a paper, “Towards Scalable Binderless Electrodes: Carbon Coated Silicon Nanofiber Paper via Mg Reduction of Electrospun SiO2 Nanofibers,” in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. The authors were Mihri Ozkan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, Cengiz S. Ozkan, a professor of mechanical engineering, and six of their graduate students: Zach Favors, Hamed Hosseini Bay, Zafer Mutlu, Kazi Ahmed, Robert Ionescu and Rachel Ye.

Scanning electron microscope images of (a) SiO2 nanofibers after drying, (b) SiO2 nanofibers under high magnification (c) silicon nanofibers after etching, and (d) silicon nanofibers under high magnification. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Scanning electron microscope images of (a) SiO2 nanofibers after drying, (b) SiO2 nanofibers under high magnification (c) silicon nanofibers after etching, and (d) silicon nanofibers under high magnification. Photo Credit: UCR Today

The nanofibers were produced using a technique known aselectrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), a chemical compound frequently used in the semiconductor industry. The nanofibers are then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.

Conventionally produced lithium-ion battery anodes are made using copper foil coated with a mixture of graphite, a conductive additive, and a polymer binder. But, because the performance of graphite has been nearly tapped out, researchers are experimenting with other materials, such as silicon, which has a specific capacity, or electrical charge per unit weight of the battery, nearly 10 times higher than graphite.

The problem with silicon is that is suffers from significant volume expansion, which can quickly degrade the battery. The silicon nanofiber structure created in the Ozkan’s labs circumvents this issue and allows the battery to be cycled hundreds of times without significant degradation.

“Eliminating the need for metal current collectors and inactive polymer binders while switching to an energy dense material such as silicon will significantly boost the range capabilities of electric vehicles,” Favors said.

(a) Schematic representation of the electrospinning process and subsequent reduction process. Digital photographs of (b) as-spun SiO2 nanofibers paper, (c) etched silicon nanofiber paper, and (d) carbon-coated silicon nanofiber paper as used in the lithium-ion half-cell configuration. Photo Credit: UCR Today
(a) Schematic representation of the electrospinning process and subsequent reduction process. Digital photographs of (b) as-spun SiO2 nanofibers paper, (c) etched silicon nanofiber paper, and (d) carbon-coated silicon nanofiber paper as used in the lithium-ion half-cell configuration. Photo Credit: UCR Today

This technology also solves a problem that has plagued free-standing, or binderless, electrodes for years: scalability. Free-standing materials grown using chemical vapor deposition, such as carbon nanotubes or silicon nanowires, can only be produced in very small quantities (micrograms). However, Favors was able to produce several grams of silicon nanofibers at a time even at the lab scale.

The researchers’ future work involves implementing the silicon nanofibers into a pouch cell format lithium-ion battery, which is a larger scale battery format that can be used in EVs and portable electronics.

The research is supported by Temiz Energy Technologies. The UC Riverside Office of Technology Commercialization has filed patents for inventions reported in the research paper.

This advancement in battery technology is an outstanding model of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  The students and staff at UC Riverside cultivate and support ideas, research, and products that accelerate the common good for all.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riveside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

For the complete article, click here.

Riverside’s Little Choir That Could

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Diane A. Rhodes and published in The Press Enterprise on January 18, 2015.)

Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: Stan Lim, The Press Enterprise

Tenacity. Grit. Determination. Fortitude. The meaning of the words are clear, but how often are these traits demonstrated in real-life situations?

The Hillcrest Show Choir, at Riverside’s Hillcrest High School, is a group of about 100 singers that have sacrificed a lot – collectively and individually – to bring entertainment to others.

When the school opened in the fall of 2012, it did not have a choir. A group of students started a petition to create one. Twenty student signatures were required to have the class considered — all 20 are still part of the choir in its third year.

Getting a choir class approved was just the beginning. Another obstacle in bringing this fine arts course to the school was logistical. With a full slate of academic classes during the day and sports programs after that, there was no time it could be scheduled when interested, but active students could participate. They requested to have it held during “zero” period, from 6:28 to 7:25 a.m. Their persistence paid off and choir members continue to rise to the challenge each morning.

“We are not a show choir by industry standards where we go to competitions and festivals and such,” choir director Beth Schwandt said. “We have a bunch of kids who want to have music in their lives and go out into their community to put on shows.”

Schwandt said one of the Alvord School District’s core values is inclusiveness and she is proud to accomplish this with a choir that does not require an audition to join. As a result, she has attracted an eclectic melting pot of students that grows steadily with each school year. The choir’s inclusiveness is a great example of seizing our destiny’s unified city pillar, they demonstrate that we’re a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all. The long-standing diversity of the City provides a comfortable home for people from all backgrounds, cultures, and interests.

“They are a tribute to starting from nothing and fighting to create a culture of well-rounded musicians, athletes, thespians, scholars, volunteers, student leaders and friends,” Schwandt said. “My greatest joy is watching them walk up the stairs to class when it’s still pitch black and freezing cold outside and enjoying that hour together.

To read the full article, click here.

La Sierra Service-Learning Class Fulfills After School Program Pledge

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Darla Martin Tucker and published in La Sierra News/Events on December 23, 2014.)

Photo Credit: La Sierra
Photo Credit: La Sierra

With ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ like it was Christmas morning, dozens of students at Stokoe Elementary School in Riverside stretched to view the colorful stacks of games, art supplies, school supplies and sporting goods filling their school’s stage.

The bounty, intended for the after school programs at Stokoe and at Wells Middle School, included paint sets, marker sets, painting canvases, packs of paper and pencils, educational games, soccer and volley balls, tennis balls, volleyball, badminton, and soccer goal nets and a 32-inch Toshiba LED television.

The goods were unveiled during a special assembly on Dec. 9, and were purchased with $3,909.49 raised during the fall academic quarter by 14 La Sierra University Senior Project business students led by Jere Fox, an associate law and management professor at the Zapara School of Business. The effort capped a pledge Fox made two-and-a-half years ago to Carmen Phillips, After School Programs coordinator for the Alvord Unified School District, that his Senior Project classes would raise funds to benefit all 16 Alvord After School programs. Donations to Stokoe and Wells schools this month fulfilled the promise. All told, Fox’s six classes since spring 2012 have delivered to Alvord’s 16 after school programs a total of $22,556.53 in products paid for with student fundraising efforts.

The donation from Fox’s class also helps the district reach matching fund goals for state grants that pay for after school programming, she said.

“The After School Programs in Alvord are funded by an After School Education and Safety grant from the State of California. We are required yearly to provide documentation of matching funds to be considered in good standing with the state,” said Phillips. “In the 2013-2014 school year, we were required to have in-kind matching funds of $1,073,112.19.”

As part of an academic service-learning program, the business students in Fox’s class visited Stokoe and Wells early in the quarter to determine the needs of the After School programs and then created a fundraising business plan to help meet those needs.  The university requires undergraduate students to perform 14 hours per student per quarter of community service. This quarter the student’s in Fox’s class contributed a total of 291 service-learning hours outside of the classroom, with more than 95 of those hours voluntarily contributed above the required minimum hours. The business students in Fox’s six Senior Project classes over the past two-and-a-half years voluntarily contributed to the after school program project an additional 884 hours above the minimum required hours, for a combined total of 3,474 hours of service-learning outside of the classroom.

The generosity and care shown by all of the La Sierra University students is a model of Riverside acting as a unified city.  Riversiders collaborate and work together to build our community and accelerate the common good for all.  We are a caring community that has great compassion and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article, click here.

Chemists Fabricate Novel Rewritable Paper

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Iqbal Pittalwala published in UCR Today on December 2, 2014)

Photo Credit: Yin Lab, UC Riverside
Photo Credit: Yin Lab, UC Riverside

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have now fabricated rewritable paper in the lab, one that is based on the color switching property of commercial chemicals called redox dyes.  The dye forms the imaging layer of the paper.  Printing is achieved by using ultraviolet light to photobleach the dye, except the portions that constitute the text on the paper.  The new rewritable paper can be erased and written on more than 20 times with no significant loss in contrast or resolution.

“This rewritable paper does not require additional inks for printing, making it both economically and environmentally viable,” said Yadong Yin, a professor of chemistry, whose lab led the research. “It represents an attractive alternative to regular paper in meeting the increasing global needs for sustainability and environmental conservation.”

The rewritable paper is essentially rewritable media in the form of glass or plastic film to which letters and patterns can be repeatedly printed, retained for days, and then erased by simple heating.

The paper comes in three primary colors: blue, red and green, produced by using the commercial redox dyes methylene blue, neutral red and acid green, respectively.  Included in the dye are titania nanocrystals (these serve as catalysts) and the thickening agent hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC).  The combination of the dye, catalysts and HEC lends high reversibility and repeatability to the film.

Research like this is an example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The students and staff at UC Riverside cultivate and support ideas, research, and products that accelerate the common good for all.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riveside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, state, and the world to follow.  

Study results appear online in Nature Communications.

For the complete article, click here.

CBU Honors President Ronald L. Ellis For 20 Years Of Leadership

(This article contains excerpts from an article featured on calbaptist.edu, published on November 7, 2014)

California Baptist University honored President Ronald L. Ellis for two decades of service in a series of events this week under the theme “Celebrating 20 Years of Great Commission Leadership.”  Receptions by faculty, staff and students expressed thanks to Ellis for his vision for turning a small Baptist college into a thriving university.  Dr. Dawn Ellen Jacobs, CBU vice provost and professor of English, recalled that Ellis brought a plan to transform the institution when he became the fifth president of California Baptist College on Nov. 1, 1994.

CBU Honors Presidents Ronald L. Ellis for 20 years of leadership.  Photo credit: Calbaptist.edu
CBU Honors Presidents Ronald L. Ellis for 20 years of leadership. Photo credit: Calbaptist.edu

“There were about 40 of us when he came in 1994,” Jacobs said. “We cared about our teaching and enjoyed relationships with our students, but President Ellis brought a sense of purpose and a vision for something more. Under his leadership, we matured as a faculty. We became a university.”

Dr. Mary Crist, professor of education in the Division of Online and Professional Studies, brought remarks as a faculty member who has served throughout the Ellis presidency.  “Dr. Ellis is a man of faith and vision, an inspirational leader, and a man with a good sense of humor,” she said. “He came here because he felt God’s call to lead a Baptist college, especially one that was struggling. God equipped him with a vision needed to be a phenomenal “turn around” present. The results are obvious today.”

Under Ellis’ leadership, California Baptist College officially became California Baptist University in 1998. New schools and colleges have been established, including the School of Music, School of Nursing, College of Engineering, the College of Allied Health and the College of Architecture, Visual Arts and Design. Today, the university comprises 10 colleges and professional schools, offering 158 undergraduate majors/concentrations and 41 master’s degree programs.

The strong leadership and dedication that Dr. Ellis possesses is a testament to what makes Riverside a location of choice.  Under his direction, California Baptist University has been transformed into a reputable university.  It is no surprise that CBU is experiencing record enrollment numbers, and shows no signs of slowing.  The quality of education and value driven campus will continue to attract creative, dynamic, and diverse students to Riverside.

Enrollment has grown from 808 in the fall of 1994 to 7,957 in the fall of 2014, more than a 900 percent increase. About 75 percent of CBC/CBU alumni graduated during the Ellis presidency.

To read the full article, click here.

“Ideas Worth Spreading”: TEDx Riverside Speakers United By Ideas

(This article contains excerpts from article by Kurt Miller, published in the Press-Enterprise on October 16,2014.)

TEDx Riverside brought together 20 speakers for an eight-hour marathon of inspiration on Thursday at the Fox Performing Arts Center.   TED conferences are brought to communities throughout the world to encourage a convergence of technology, design and entertainment.  To promote education, TEDx Riverside gave 500 tickets to local high schools and filled the balcony with teenagers. It provided buses and lunch for students of Riverside Unified School District.  

“Everybody in this room is a lifelong learner,” Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey declared in his opening remarks.

Nobel Prize winner and UC Riverside alumni Richard Schrock.  Photo credit: City of Riverside
Nobel Prize winner and UC Riverside alumni Richard Schrock. Photo credit: City of Riverside

Most of the speakers had Inland ties, but many have wide renown.  They included Nobel laureate Richard Schrock, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Riverside in 1967 and is now a chemistry professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another UCR graduate was Steve Breen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning and a children’s author.

Among the more unusual presentations was performance artist Gregory Adamson creating a 6-by-6-foot painting of John Lennon in 11 minutes, accompanied by a medley of Lennon and Beatles songs. Photo credit: Fielding Buck
Among the more unusual presentations was performance artist Gregory Adamson creating a 6-by-6-foot painting of John Lennon in 11 minutes, accompanied by a medley of Lennon and Beatles songs. Photo credit: Fielding Buck

The TEDx Riverside event was a model of all the Seizing Our Destiny pillars.  Riversiders from of all ages and backgrounds attended the event on Thursday October, 16 as a unified city with a common interest to be entertained and inspired.  Although each speaker was completely different, they all seem to be on the same wavelength of maximizing personal potential and advocating intelligent growth in our community.  Riverside is a city that honors and builds on its assets to become a location of choice that catalyzes innovation in all forms, while enhancing quality of life.

To read more about TEDx Riverside, click here.

Riverside Recognized For Encouraging Healthy Workplace

(This article contains excerpts from an article Suzanne Hurt, published in the Press-Enterprise on October 9, 2014.)

The American Heart Association has recognized the city of Riverside’s continued effort to improve employees’ health.  The association gave the city a 2014 Platinum Fit-Friendly Award and Work site Innovation Award at a City Council meeting Aug. 12, according to city spokesman Phil Pitchford.  The city was also recognized with the health award in 2013.

Photo credit: Press-Enterprise
Photo credit: Press-Enterprise

The award is given to companies and organizations that meet criteria such as offering healthy food at the workplace, supporting workers’ fitness activities and taking other steps to encourage a healthy work site, according to the association.

The City’s Human Resources Department began its wellness programs in 2009. Workers lost 7,400 pounds in four years through an annual “Get Fit Challenge” weight-loss program.

The City of Riverside being recognized by the American Heart Association for two consecutive years, makes our beloved city a location of choice for individuals seeking a healthy lifestyle.  What really makes Riverside so unique are the intangible benefits and values that enhance the quality of life in the city.  Riverside is becoming a location of choice for people and organizations all over the world.

To read more, click here.

UC Riverside Research Team Probing Other Planets For Life

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Mark Muckenfuss, published in the Press-Enterprise on October 8, 2014)

A UC Riverside-led research team is part of a $50 million NASA program designed to detect life on distant planets.  Biogeochemistry professor Timothy Lyons has spent years studying the chemistry of ancient rocks on Earth. The data from that work has allowed him and his colleagues to theorize about the environmental conditions on the planet at various times in its early evolution.

Biogeochemistry Professor, Timothy Lyons
Biogeochemistry Professor, Timothy Lyons

This research initiative, as part of the NASA program, is an extraordinary example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, and UC Riverside is at the forefront.  The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support research and exploration in the scientific community.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, nation, and world to follow. 

The $8 million that Lyons’ multi-disciplinary team will receive from the NASA Astrobiology Institute is for a five-year study. He believes it won’t take much longer than that before astrobiologists will be able to detect life on distant planets.  

He’s excited by the current exploration of Mars, using rovers to sample the soil and, among other things, look for any signs of ancient life. With new, more powerful telescopes due to come on line soon, he expects the number of identified exoplanets to further grow. With each one, he said, there is the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life.  The best way to discover such life, he said, is to look at our own planet.

The broad spectrum of scientists involved – 19 researchers from 11 universities and labs – includes experts in genomics, tectonics, geochemistry, paleontology and earth system modeling.

Two of the team members are former graduate researchers who worked in Lyons’ lab. UCR graduates Noah Planavsky, now at Yale, and Christopher Reinhard, at Georgia Tech, helped Lyons gather ancient rock samples and reconstruct the conditions on Earth from the period when those rocks were formed. Having that team centered at UCR will bring greater recognition to the school, he said.

“It’s a good thing for UCR, and it’s a good thing for the Inland Empire”, said Lyons.

To read more, click here.

 

Riverside Bike-Sharing Program In The Works

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Alicia Robinson, published in the Press-Enterprise on September 16, 2014)

In Riverside’s continuing quest to expand public transit offerings and foster a “bicycle culture,” the city plans to launch what is likely the Inland area’s first public bike sharing program.  A city wide bike-share program would be a great opportunity for all Riversiders, providing one more reason why Riverside is a location of choice.  Not only would this provide Riversiders with more convenient public transportation options, it would be a fun opportunity for people to stay active and enjoy the great climate and environment that Riverside has to offer.  Our city is increasingly becoming the location of choice for people and organizations from all over the world.     

People check out bicycles from a Citi Bike station in New York City's Central Park. Riverside plans to test a bike share program, possibly starting in 2015.  Photo credit: Matthew Christensen
People check out bicycles from a Citi Bike station in New York City’s Central Park. Riverside plans to test a bike share program, possibly starting in 2015. Photo credit: Matthew Christensen

The bike share concept isn’t new. Community bikes were used in Amsterdam as early as the 1960s. The first organized programs in the U.S. date to the 1990s, said Susan Shaheen, co-director of UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center.  Esri, a Redlands geographic information systems company, offers free shared bicycles as an employee perk.

Riverside’s pilot project, which could start in 2015, will likely include four bike kiosks – one near City Hall, one at the downtown Metrolink station and spots near the UC Riverside and Riverside City College campuses, said Brandi Becker, a senior administrative analyst in the city’s public works department.  For most systems, pricing is set to encourage trips of a half-hour or less. Denver’s B-cycle, for example, starts at $8 for a 24-hour pass or $80 for a year, with weekly and monthly passes also offered. With all passes, trips up to 30 minutes are free; extra hourly charges apply for those who keep bikes out longer.

Many bike shares are still ironing out financial and logistical issues, but Riverside should be able to learn from others’ early mistakes, said Charlie Gandy, a bike consultant and vice president of the California Bicycle Coalition.    Gandy expects a bike share to fuel even more interest in cycling, whether for work, fun or fitness.   “Cities that take on this type of project see a major shift in people’s attitudes towards bicycling,” he said.

To read more, click here.