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  1. Recent work in fluid-driven soft robots has demonstrated the potential to achieve high power-to-weight ratios, low fabrication costs, and improved safety, making them well suited for interactive tasks. However, the low speed of pneumatic actuation prevents use of these robots in more dynamic tasks. This paper aims to design, characterize, and model a bistable elastomeric actuator for swift tasks (BEAST). This actuator enables both fast actuation and mechanical compliance, and is designed by integrating silicone and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in a bendy straw structure. The BEAST contains three states - compressed, natural, and stretched states. Two operation modes - compressedmore »and stretched modes, are defined to model the continuous elongation dynamics before and after the quickly switching around the natural state. A set of design rules and a novel fabrication method are presented to develop the BEAST. The actuator characterization shows that the maximum extension ratio, snapping speed, and output force of the BEAST to be 0.58, 1.5m/s, and 48N, respectively. A hybrid linear parameter varying (HLPV) model is developed to describe the pressure-dependent dynamics of the actuator. The actuators are evaluated in an object sorting task where both fast and gentle behaviors are demonstrated.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 4, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  3. Low-temperature direct ammonia fuel cells (DAFCs) use carbon-neutral ammonia as a fuel, which has attracted increasing attention recently due to ammonia's low source-to-tank energy cost, easy transport and storage, and wide availability. However, current DAFC technologies are greatly limited by the kinetically sluggish ammonia oxidation reaction (AOR) at the anode. Herein, we report an AOR catalyst, in which ternary PtIrZn nanoparticles with an average size of 2.3 ± 0.2 nm were highly dispersed on a binary composite support comprising cerium oxide (CeO 2 ) and zeolitic imidazolate framework-8 (ZIF-8)-derived carbon (PtIrZn/CeO 2 -ZIF-8) through a sonochemical-assisted synthesis method. The PtIrZnmore »alloy, with the aid of abundant OH ad provided by CeO 2 and uniform particle dispersibility contributed by porous ZIF-8 carbon (surface area: ∼600 m 2 g −1 ), has shown highly efficient catalytic activity for the AOR in alkaline media, superior to that of commercial PtIr/C. The rotating disk electrode (RDE) results indicate a lower onset potential (0.35 vs. 0.43 V), relative to the reversible hydrogen electrode at room temperature, and a decreased activation energy (∼36.7 vs. 50.8 kJ mol −1 ) relative to the PtIr/C catalyst. Notably, the PtIrZn/CeO 2 -ZIF-8 catalyst was assembled with a high-performance hydroxide anion-exchange membrane to fabricate an alkaline DAFC, reaching a peak power density of 91 mW cm −2 . Unlike in aqueous electrolytes, supports play a critical role in improving uniform ionomer distribution and mass transport in the anode. PtIrZn nanoparticles on silicon dioxide (SiO 2 ) integrated with carboxyl-functionalized carbon nanotubes (CNT–COOH) were further studied as the anode in a DAFC. A significantly enhanced peak power density of 314 mW cm −2 was achieved. Density functional theory calculations elucidated that Zn atoms in the PtIr alloy can reduce the theoretical limiting potential of *NH 2 dehydrogenation to *NH by ∼0.1 V, which can be attributed to a Zn-modulated upshift of the Pt–Ir d-band that facilitates the N–H bond breakage.« less
  4. The surface urban heat island (SUHI), which represents the difference of land surface temperature (LST) in urban relativity to neighboring non-urban surfaces, is usually measured using satellite LST data. Over the last few decades, advancements of remote sensing along with spatial science have considerably increased the number and quality of SUHI studies that form the major body of the urban heat island (UHI) literature. This paper provides a systematic review of satellite-based SUHI studies, from their origin in 1972 to the present. We find an exponentially increasing trend of SUHI research since 2005, with clear preferences for geographic areas, timemore »of day, seasons, research foci, and platforms/sensors. The most frequently studied region and time period of research are China and summer daytime, respectively. Nearly two-thirds of the studies focus on the SUHI/LST variability at a local scale. The Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM)/Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+)/Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) and Terra/Aqua Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) are the two most commonly-used satellite sensors and account for about 78% of the total publications. We systematically reviewed the main satellite/sensors, methods, key findings, and challenges of the SUHI research. Previous studies confirm that the large spatial (local to global scales) and temporal (diurnal, seasonal, and inter-annual) variations of SUHI are contributed by a variety of factors such as impervious surface area, vegetation cover, landscape structure, albedo, and climate. However, applications of SUHI research are largely impeded by a series of data and methodological limitations. Lastly, we propose key potential directions and opportunities for future efforts. Besides improving the quality and quantity of LST data, more attention should be focused on understudied regions/cities, methods to examine SUHI intensity, inter-annual variability and long-term trends of SUHI, scaling issues of SUHI, the relationship between surface and subsurface UHIs, and the integration of remote sensing with field observations and numeric modeling.« less