Tech Briefs Magazine - February 2022 - 40

Sustainable Technology
surface and generates a fluorescent reaction.
A nonfluorescent molecule is then
sent to bind to the surface, where its
reaction competes with the fluorescent
signal. The resulting decrease in fluorescence,
essentially creating a negative
image, can then be measured and
mapped with super high resolution.
Using COMPEITS on a gold nanopartiCornell
researchers identified a new chemistry approach that could remove micropollutants from
the environment. (Photo: Cornell University)
while smaller particles have less available
space internally but a greater surface volume
ratio for atoms to sit atop, where they
can be utilized for processes such as catalysis
and adsorption. The different types of
structures the atoms and molecules form
on these surface facets are directly correlated
with the particle's shape.
Scientists have used several imaging
methods to survey these particles but until
now, they haven't been able to obtain
nanometer resolution to explore the
nooks and crannies of the multiple surface
facets and quantify the affinity, or strength,
of a ligand's adsorption. The team was able
to do that by employing a method called
COMPetition Enabled Imaging Technique
with Super-Resolution (COMPEITS).
The process works by introducing a
molecule that reacts with the particle
cle, the team was able to quantify the
strength of ligand adsorption and they
discovered ligand behavior can be very
diverse. At some sites, they cooperate to
help each other adsorb but at other sites,
they can impair each other's efforts. The
researchers also discovered that sometimes
this positive and negative cooperativity
exists at the same site. In addition,
the researchers learned that the surface
density of adsorbed ligands can determine
which facet is dominant. This
crossover inspired the team to vary the
concentrations of individual ligands as a
way to tune the shape of the particle itself.
For example, one way to remove
micropollutants, such as pesticides, from
the environment is to adsorb micro-portions
on the surface of some adsorbent
particle. After it is adsorbed on the surface
of the particle, if the particle is a catalyst,
it can catalyze the destruction of
the micropollutants.
For more information, contact the Army Re -
search Laboratory Public Affairs Office at
public_affairs@arl.army.mil; 301-394-3590.
Recycling Battery Parts Without Crushing or Melting
The method replenishes lithium in electrodes while keeping the existing structure intact.
Aalto University, Finland
he proliferation of electric cars,
smartphones, and portable devices is
leading to an estimated 25 percent
increase globally in the manufacturing of
rechargeable batteries each year. Many
raw materials used in the batteries, such
as cobalt, may soon be in short supply.
Researchers have discovered that electrodes
in lithium batteries containing
cobalt can be reused as is after being
newly saturated with lithium. In comparison
to traditional recycling, which typically
extracts metals from crushed batteries
by melting or dissolving them, the
new process saves valuable raw materials
as well as energy.
T
As lithium cobalt oxide batteries age,
one of the main causes of battery deterioration
is the depletion of lithium in the
40
Cov
Electrodes removed from batteries consist of a film made of aluminum or copper, for example,
which is covered with a thin layer of active material. (Photo: Aalto University)
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Tech Briefs Magazine - February 2022

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