Holey Batteries Batman, Can Chemists Really Help Solve Our Energy Problems?
Apr 25 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Get a Charge Out of Chemistry - webinar

This is a free-to-all virtual event.  To register, CLICK HERE.


About the webinar:

This talk explores how materials chemistry can help address challenges in improving our energy security and efficiency. Using chemically synthesized nanoporous materials as our building blocks, we will see how these ‘holey’ materials can help solve problems ranging from grid-level energy storage for renewable energy to fast-charging batteries for vehicle electrification to building efficiency.

We begin with an introduction to battery technology and then consider how nanoporous materials can improve battery performance. We first focus on a family of fast-charging materials known as pseudocapacitors. When conventional electrode materials are synthesized in nanoporous form, they can be used to produce batteries that charge much faster than those made with conventional bulk materials. This arises because of a very desirable combination of electrical connectivity throughout each porous grain, liquid electrolyte access to the interior of the material, and short solid-state ion diffusion lengths within the walls of the nanoporous network. In some materials, the nanoscale wall dimensions can also suppress intercalation-induced phase transitions, further improving kinetics. Nanoscale porosity can also help increase stability in other types of battery electrodes, particularly those that have large volume changes upon cycling.

Focusing on high-capacity alloy anodes, we show that nanoscale porosity can help mitigate structural degradation due to volume changes. Finally, we consider how porous materials can be used as insulation to improve building efficiency. Here we focus on both optically clear porous materials that can be used for window insulation, and on materials with strong infrared emission that can be used for passive daytime radiative cooling.

About the speaker:

Sarah H. Tolbert is a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Materials Science and Engineering at UCLA. Her research focuses on controlling nanometer-scale architecture in solution-processed nanomaterials to generate unique optical, electronic, magnetic, structural, and electrochemical properties. She has published over 200 scholarly research articles and has 20 patents focusing on electrochemical energy storage, organic electronics, nanomagnetics, nanoscale control of thermal conductivity, and new ultra-hard materials.

She also serves as the faculty director for a program aimed at bringing nano-concepts to schools, students, and the general public throughout the greater LA area. Professor Tolbert is the recipient of a number of awards including the American Chemical Society Henry H. Storch Award in Energy Chemistry, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, an NSF Special Creativity Award, the ACS R.A. Glen Award, and the UCLA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award. She directs the DOE Energy Frontier Research Center on Synthetic Control Across Length-scales for Advancing Rechargeables (SCALAR).

Family Science Night at Willard Middle School
May 2 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Willard MS Mural

On Thursday, May 2nd, Willard Middle School will host Family Science Night, an evening of colorful demonstrations and hands-on chemistry, presented by the local California Section of the American Chemical Society.  The entire Willard Community is cordially invited!

Join us at 6 PM in the Multi Purpose Room for exciting chemical demonstrations. We’re celebrating Earth Week this year with theme, “Getting A Charge Out Of Chemistry,” and visitors will have the chance to recreate Alessandro Volta’s original 1799 voltaic pile.  Pick up your event program and visit each of the activity stations for plenty of hands-on science, before returning to the MPR for prizes and Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream.   Collect your souvenir Periodic Table and copies of Celebrating Chemistry, with instructions for a variety of safe, hands-on activities that you can try at home.

Please contact Michael Cheng if you would like to join our volunteer team and help out at this event!

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream!



Got Fakes? Paper microfluidics and the hunt for bad quality medicines
May 4 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Marya Lieberman, PhD

Our Distinguished Speaker


In low- and middle-income countries, about one in ten medicine products is substandard or falsified. In my lab, I have samples of antimalarial drugs made from starch and chalk, antibiotics “cut” with talcum powder, and chemotherapy drugs that were manufactured at half the concentration they should have been. How do these products get into the supply chain, and more importantly, how can chemists help to get them out? This talk will focus on a point-of-use testing device that my group invented twelve years ago, the paper analytical device or PAD. I’ll explain how this paper microfluidic device works and how we are implementing it with partners in sub-Saharan Africa to discover bad quality medicines.

About The Speaker

Dr. Marya Lieberman enjoys making stained glass, cooking, and solving fiendish cryptic crosswords. She loves chemistry so much she did a chemistry demonstration at her wedding. As a kid in Berkeley, California, she missed all the exciting stuff in the 60’s and 70’s, although her mother tells her she was gassed in her stroller. She developed an interest in science that was deepened and focused by an undergraduate degree in chemistry at MIT and a PhD from the University of Washington, Seattle, where she designed and built an artificial metalloprotein. A high point in this project was finally understanding her protein’s energy landscape; a low point was sleeping on the floor of the lab during the marathon HPLC kinetics runs required to get to the energy landscape. She received a prestigious NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship to study at Caltech, where she discovered that the NSF had not considered that Fellows might get pregnant and had no maternity leave policy. After the birth of her first child, she and her husband became faculty members at the University of Notre Dame, where they have happily occupied neighboring offices for 28 years. Her second child was born the day before she received tenure. For most of her career, she studied DNA nanostructures and cool molecular electronics with high-vacuum instrumentation and scanning probe microscopes. She took pictures of single molecules sitting on surfaces, knitted DNA into tiny carpets, and studied quantum-dot cellular automata. In 2012, she started a new research program using paper microfluidics to develop technologies for use in low resource settings. For the past 12 years, she has been on the hunt for substandard and falsified medicines with collaborators in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Palestine, and Bangladesh. This work received coverage by numerous news outlets, including Bloomberg News, Chemical and Engineering News, the Voice of America, and BBC Worldwide.

Zoom link to be shared with attendees the day of the event.

Please register before Thursday, May 2, 2024, 12 noon. Your email address is needed to send the Zoom link, which will be shared with attendees on or before the day of the event via Brown Paper Tickets.

Please visit the CalACS website to register for this meeting or use Brown Paper Tickets.

The event is FREE and open to the community. More information: e-mail WCC co-chair Elaine Yamaguchi.

Tour the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (LBNL) in Emeryville
May 14 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Cal ACS invites you to join us for a unique tour of LBNL’s Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU) in Emeryville, CA.  Program Manager James Gardner, Senior Process Engineer Dupeng Liu, and their colleagues will introduce us to this cutting-edge facility, which works with other laboratories and companies to develop the next generation of sustainable manufacturing processes. You will hear from experts about continuous bioprocessing, purification methods, and more.

We will meet at Summer Summer Thai Eatery (5885 Hollis St #50, Emeryville CA 94608), at 5 PM for drinks and a buffet dinner.  Tour groups will leave at 5:30, 6:00, and 6:30 PM to visit the ABPDU facility next door.  It is essential that you reserve for your preferred tour time, because this is a Federal facility and you must provide your name and country of citizenship in advance.  The tour is free but Cal ACS is charging for this event to help cover the restaurant rental and food costs: $30 for professional members and $15 for students or unemployed members.  Please use this link to register for this event. Deadline for reservations: Friday, May 3rd.

Since ABPDU is a working process development facility, visitors are required to wear CLOSE-TOED shoes.  Sandals are not permitted.  Other personal protective equipment (face goggles) will be provided onsite.

Note: if you show up without a reservation, you are welcome to join us for the buffet dinner and networking, but it will not be possible to accommodate you on the tour.

Bioreactors at ABPDU