Journal of Physical Chemistry B | Year: 2014
We present extensive atomistic molecular dynamics simulations of the structure and stability of fullerene-based membranes. The simulations provide a molecular description of the PhK (pentaarylfullerene anions, C60Ar5-·K+) and C8K (C60Ar5-·K+ with octyl substituents) membranes. Physical chemical properties and molecular organization of PhK and C8K membranes elucidate various aspects related to their formation and potential applications. Our simulations evidence that such membranes are robust and stable. PhK membranes proved very stable and compact. Considering experimental evidence, PhK bilayer is an adequate model for the surface of the PhK vesicle. © 2014 American Chemical Society.
News Article | April 14, 2016
The Information Computing and Technology sector uses a large chunk of the Earth's energy. The European ParaDIME project has been working to reduce the energy consumption of data centers. With climate change high on today’s agenda, it’s important to improve energy efficiency in the ICT sector. Researchers have estimated that the electricity used by data centers worldwide already accounted for 1.1-1.5 percent of the world’s total electricity use at the start of this decade — and this figure is likely to have increased since. However, the Parallel Distributed Infrastructure for Minimization of Energy (ParaDIME) project is working to remedy this situation. The three-year ParaDIME project came to a close at the end of September 2015. It was coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) in Spain, in partnership with IMEC in Belgium, Dresden University of Technology in Germany, the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, and Cloud & Heat Technologies GmbH in Germany. The goal of ParaDIME was to maximize the energy efficiency of data centers, and in doing so reduce electricity use and CO emissions. To achieve this, the ParaDIME team used a range of techniques on both the software and hardware found in data centers, from optimization of code to changing building design. One of the most substantial changes involved installing the data center’s compute nodes in a decentralized manner, and using the heat they produce to heat the entire building. On a smaller scale, the team experimented with creating computer platforms that comprised CPUs, GPUs, and programmable FPGA accelerators, which produced substantial energy savings by running the right code on the right type of hardware. The voltage supplied to the hardware was also reduced: “This is a well-known technique to reduce power,” says Oscar Palomar, a BSC researcher on ParaDIME. “We have achieved very high savings by pushing this approach beyond the safe limit of voltage: beyond that point, circuits begin to fail and results generated include errors. But with the use of error-correction techniques, we indeed achieved high savings in some processor structures.” Energy consumption was also effectively reduced by implementing efficient schedulers which balance heating/cooling workloads across different data centers. “We developed custom hardware to turn off nodes while still keeping the attached disks powered, to support big data while being energy efficient,” says Osman Unsal, principal investigator on the ParaDIME project. Energy-saving scheduling was also applied to virtual machines to reduce their migration costs and decrease the time required to reactivate them. This range of energy-saving measures, while highly varied, was highly effective. The overall consumption of energy by data centers using these measures was reduced by up to 60 percent, with an associated CO -emission reduction of 50 percent. In the future, Unsal, Palomar, and their colleagues plan to investigate applying these measures to high-performance computing in an effort to smash down the so-called ‘power wall’ and aid efforts to reach exascale supercomputing at a reasonable energy cost. “We have reached a point at which further improvements in computing performance can only be achieved by improving the energy-efficiency of processing chips,” explains Unsal. This article was originally published on ScienceNode.org. Read the original article.
The findings published in the journal Science show that internet access, like other valuable resources, can be controlled politically and distributed unfairly. In some ways, the internet has opened educational and political opportunities to people who otherwise have limited access to resources. Once-inaccessible documents can now be found with a click or a tap; individuals with common cause can find one another online and foster political movements. Current events seem to back up that idea, the scientists noted. "In the wake of the Arab Spring, the internet has often been portrayed as a 'liberation technology,'" the study authors wrote. "Specifically, it has been argued that the internet fosters transparency and accountability of nondemocratic governments." But this idea assumes that those marginalized people, those who might stand to benefit the most from internet access, are getting that access in the first place. The scientists wondered if, within nations, the politically marginalized groups could be getting left behind. "Research in political science (including mine) now looks increasingly at the more pernicious effects, such as government censorship and online propaganda," lead author Nils Weidmann, a political science professor at the University of Konstanz in Germany, said in an email. There are two main ways this might happen, they explained. Ethnic groups who hold political power might push for economic and technological improvements in their home regions, at the expense of others. But governments might also be actively preventing certain communities from getting access to this technology in order to prevent those groups from mobilizing politically. "In most developing countries, governments are the major, if not the only, provider of telecommunication services," the study authors wrote. "At the same time, in many of these countries, politics operates along ethnic lines, so that one or more groups hold political power at the expense of other, marginalized ones. This allows internet technology to be implemented in a way that benefits certain groups while neglecting others." To find out if this was the case, the researchers looked to the Ethnic Power Relations database, which logs politically relevant groups and their access to state power from 1946 to 2005. (This includes both the groups that have wielded power and those that have found themselves subject to it.) Then they estimated internet availability among those groups by pinpointing active internet subnetworks, which account for roughly 256 internet addresses apiece. This simplified the process by reducing the amount of data they had to process and also eliminated certain privacy issues that crop up with studying individual IP addresses. The researchers controlled for a number of different factors that could affect ethnic groups' internet access, including level of development, geographic location and urban versus rural settings. They looked at nighttime light emissions, which have recently been linked to an area's economic performance and, on a local scale, the level of wealth. They also included indicators of terrain ruggedness and distance from the national capital to factor in geographical inaccessibility. The scientists found that ethnic groups who were excluded from political power had only about 60 percent of the internet access that favored groups did. "We were not entirely surprised," Weidmann said of the results. "We know from existing research that politically excluded groups also suffer from other disadvantages - for example, they tend to have a lower level of development, infrastructure, etc. ... The digital disadvantage we identify is just another aspect where this plays out." After analyzing the results, the researchers also found no evidence that democracy alleviates this tendency; authoritarian or autocratic governments were not uniquely to blame for this trend. If a country with a democratic political system excludes certain groups politically, then those groups also experience this "digital discrimination." "What our results highlight is the need for equality and fairness in the development of modern ICT," or information and communications technologies, Wiedmann said. "So, in other words, if a development agency sponsors the expansion of internet services somewhere, they should insist on a fair distribution of these services, and not let national governments allocate these services primarily to their favored groups." Explore further: Internet use translates into greater economic than social benefits More information: N. B. Weidmann et al, Digital discrimination: Political bias in Internet service provision across ethnic groups, Science (2016). DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf5062
News Article | January 22, 2016
Companies partaking in the RE100 campaign are, on average, halfway towards meeting their 100% renewable electricity goals. This, according to the new RE100 annual report published by The Climate Group and CDP this week, which publishes the latest available data (which is from 2014) on 45 companies partaking in the RE100 campaign to commit to 100% renewable electricity. Specifically, the report shows that the retail sector of RE100 companies have switched over 10 GW to renewables, while those in the ICT sector are on average 64% of the way towards their 100% electricity goals. The RE100 campaign predicts that its current group of 53 RE100 companies will reach an average of 80% renewable electricity by 2020. “The good news is that RE100 companies in every sector have made progress towards their 100% goals – or in some cases, have already got there,” said Emily Farnworth, RE100 Campaign Director at The Climate Group. “The companies that have been able to make the switch more easily are those with smaller power requirements operating mainly in the US or Europe – where renewable electricity options are most readily accessible. The report also identified a trend in IT companies that are building research labs and data centers and relying on Power Purchase Agreements and on-site generation. Many European companies are also making the most of opportunities to use Power Purchase Agreements for renewable energy directly from the grid. “This report shows us that business corporations around the world are stepping up in making commitments to renewable energy and working with RE100 to drive forward a global market for renewable energy,” said Roberto Zanchi, Technical Manager, Renewable Energy at CDP. “By reporting to CDP on their transition to clean energy and the sharing of best practices, RE100 companies are demonstrating strong transparency and accountability which are essential in developing a vibrant, well-functioning market.” The RE100 campaign has its own goals as well, and is planning the following tasks moving forward: Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.” Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
A new polymer on the basis of a trick used by mussels has been developed by the Wageningen PhD student Juan Yang. The polymer should be able to let water-based paint flow better and produce water resistant coatings. Yang will defend her PhD-thesis on 12 January at Wageningen University. Water-based paint is better for humans and the environment compared to paint with chemical solvents. Paint based on water, however, still does not carry the same properties as those based on chemicals. The paint flows differently than traditional alkyd systems for example. Giving a water-based product water-repellent characteristics is also no sinecure. Yang therefore has been looking for a polymer that dissolves in water but creates water resistance after application in her PhD research. She was inspired by the mussel. Being under water, a mussel can still attach itself to surfaces. The mussel does so by first excreting a thread of a specific type of protein from its foot. A reaction then occurs in these proteins, whereby the thread losses the ability to dissolve in water within a minute and becomes strong and tough. Much research already has been done on the chemistry of these proteins because of the adhesion properties, but not so much on the insolubility in water. Yang is unravelling this characteristic in her dissertation Mussel-inspired chemistry and its applications. The Wageningen PhD student was able to create a polymer with this property that reacts in water. One of the requirements for the toughening characteristic of this polymer is the de-acidification of its surroundings. This proof of principle offers a lead of departure for the paint industry to improve water based paints. The effects of the polymer on other paint components, such as pigment and other properties, needs further research. The reactive polymer has the potency for application in other situations. For instance, mussel-inspired chemistry is suitable for the creation of antimicrobial coatings. Explore further: Industry's first use of water-based paint for plastic chassis ICT equipment More information: Juan Yang et al. A clear coat from a water soluble precursor: a bioinspired paint concept, J. Mater. Chem. A (2016). DOI: 10.1039/C5TA09437B