Pressure Cooking to Improve Electric Car Batteries

David Kisailus

David Kisailus

UCR researchers from the Bourns College of Engineering have redesigned the component materials of electric car batteries in a way that will solve problems such as the short battery life and bulky design.

By creating nanoparticles with a controlled shape, they believe that smaller, more powerful and energy efficient batteries can be built.

“This is a critical, fundamental step in improving the efficiency of these batteries,” said David Kisailus, an associate professor of chemical and environmental engineering and lead researcher on the project.

In addition to electric cars, the redesigned batteries could be used for municipal energy storage, including energy generated by the sun and wind.

The initial findings are outlined in a just-published paper called “Solvothermal Synthesis, Development and Performance of LiFePO4 Nanostructures” in the journal Crystal Growth & Design.

The research was sponsored by the Winston Chung Global Energy Center, which is named after Winston Chung, a Chinese battery inventor who has provided more than $16 million in support to the campus in recent years for clean-energy research.

Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News First?

According to psychologists Angela M. Legg and Kate Sweeny, the decision whether to hear the good news or bad news first depends on if you are the giver or receiver of bad news. It also depends on whether the news-giver wants the receiver to act on the information.

Legg, a graduate student who completed her Ph.D. in psychology in October, and Sweeny, assistant professor of psychology, determined that there is no simple prescription for delivering good or bad news first.

In a series of experiments, the psychologists found that recipients of bad news want to hear that bad news first, while news-givers prefer to deliver the good news first.

It was also determined that where good news is introduced in a conversation can influence the recipient’s decision to act or change his or her behavior.

They reported their findings in “Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News First? The Nature and Consequences of News Order Preferences” in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Computer Model Anticipates Crime Hot Spots

A unique collaboration between a UCR sociologist and the Indio Police Department has produced a computer model that predicts, by census block group, where burglaries are likely to occur.

Using the model, the Indio department has developed interventions to address the problem, and can better anticipate hot spots of criminal activity and deploy officers accordingly. The result is an 8 percent decline in thefts in the first nine months of 2013.

The collaboration between Robert Nash Parker, professor of sociology and senior researcher at UCR’s Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies, and Indio police is unusual, but it is the direction law enforcement is heading, said Indio Police Chief Richard P. Twiss.

Chris Emerling Gives Poster Presentation at Neuroscience 2013

Chris Emerling, a graduate student working with Professor Mark S. Springer in the Department of Biology, gave a poster presentation on the nine-banded armadillo on Nov. 10, at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego, Calif.  Emerling also participated in a press conference the next day.

In the presentation, Emerling and Springer propose that the nine-banded armadillo can be used as a model organism for achromatopsia and progressive cone dystrophy research.  Both diseases involve the degeneration of cone cells in the retina of the eye, cells that normally contribute to the colorful, sharp images typically associated with vision.

“Those afflicted have completely colorless, low-resolution vision in the dark and blindness during the day, rendering their vision practically useless in most day-to-day activities,” Emerling said.

Emerling and Springer examined the cone-specific genes of the nine-banded armadillo and discovered that these species completely lack cones.

“As a result, they can be used to search for new genes involved in these diseases, see how the condition progresses developmentally, and experimented on with gene replacement therapies, in hopes of further understanding and potentially finding cures,” Emerling said.


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