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  1. Doron Aurbach (Ed.)
    Rechargeable Li-CO2 batteries have emerged as promising candidates for next generation batteries due to their low cost, high theoretical capacity, and ability to capture the greenhouse gas CO2. However, these batteries still face challenges such as slow reaction kinetic and short cycle performance due to the accumulation of discharge products. To address this issue, it is necessary to design and develop high efficiency electrocatalysts that can improve CO2 reduction reaction. In this study, we report the use of NiMn2O4 electrocatalysts combined with multiwall carbon nanotubes as a cathode material in the Li-CO2 batteries. This combination proved effective in decomposing discharge products and enhancing cycle performance. The battery shows stable discharge–charge cycles for at least 30 cycles with a high limited capacity of 1000 mAh/g at current density of 100 mA/g. Furthermore, the battery with the NiMn2O4@CNT catalyst exhibits a reversible discharge capacity of 2636 mAh/g. To gain a better understanding of the reaction mechanism of Li-CO2 batteries, spectroscopies and microscopies were employed to identify the chemical composition of the discharge products. This work paves a pathway to increase cycle performance in metal-CO2 batteries, which could have significant implications for energy storage and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. The next generation of fuel cells, electrolyzers, and batteries requires higher power, faster kinetics, and larger energy density, which necessitate the use of compositionally complex oxides to achieve multifunctionalities and activity. These compositionally complex oxides may change their phases and structures during an electrochemical process—a so-called “electrochemically driven phase transformation.” The origin for such a phase change has remained obscure. The aim of this paper is to present an experimental study and a theoretical analysis of phase evolution in praseodymium nickelates. Nickelate-based electrodes show up to 60 times greater phase transformation during operation when compared with thermally annealed ones. Theoretical analysis suggests that the presence of a reduced oxygen partial pressure at the interface between the oxygen electrode and the electrolyte is the origin for the phase change in an oxygen electrode. Guided by the theory, the addition of the electronic conduction in the interface layer leads to the significant suppression of phase change while improving cell performance and performance stability. 
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  3. Molecular spectroscopy and photochemistry constitute an integral field in modern chemistry. However, undergraduate level classes provide limited opportunities for hands-on experimentation of photochemistry and photophysics. For this reason, a simple laboratory experiment was designed that may be easily implemented into undergraduate teaching laboratories with the aim of introducing undergraduate students to UV/visible spectroscopy and photochemistry/photophysics and its possible applications. Samples of three unknown sunscreen formulations are given to students and they are asked to use a set of techniques to identify their molecular composition and to test their efficacy using basic laboratory equipment available to them. In particular, the students are asked to complete the following tasks: (i) sample preparation using solvent extraction to extract active ingredients from the sunscreen lotion, (ii) identify the extracted molecular sunscreen constituents by Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) and UV/visible spectroscopy, and finally (iii) study their photostability by means of steady state irradiation coupled with UV/visible spectroscopy. The students were provided with the following tools for data collection: silica-backed TLC plates, a short-wave lamp (254 nm, for TLC analysis), a UV-Vis spectrophotometer with an associated computer and software, and an LED lamp (315 nm) to irradiate the samples. Combined TLC and UV-Vis spectroscopy allowed the students to identify the extracted ingredients. UV irradiation confirmed the photostability of sunscreens. 
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