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Spring 2016
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Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.

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Enlighten

Daylight Savings

Engineers creating a way to store solar power even in darkness 

All-vanadium photo-electrochemical storage cell

An all-vanadium photo-electrochemical storage cell in operation

Solar energy without the sun? It's not as far-fetched as it sounds, thanks to a new energy cell developed by a team of UTA engineers.

Most solar energy systems rely on gathering sunlight and using its power immediately, while the sun is still out. But those systems are less efficient at night or in cloudy conditions. That's where Fuqiang Liu comes in. The associate professor and his team of engineers have developed an all-vanadium photo-electrochemical flow cell that could store large-scale solar energy even at night.

"This research has a chance to rewrite how we store and use solar power," says Dr. Liu. "As renewable energy becomes more prevalent, the ability to store solar energy and use it as a renewable alternative provides a sustainable solution to the problem of energy shortage. It can also effectively harness the inexhaustible energy of the sun."

As Dong Liu, lead author of the study, explains, "We have demonstrated simultaneously reversible storage of both solar energy and electrons in the cell. Releasing the stored electrons under dark conditions continues solar energy storage, thus allowing for unintermittent storage around the clock."

Dr. Liu, along with Liu and doctoral candidate Zi Wei, published their work in a recent edition of the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis. The research was funded by a $400,000 Faculty Early Career Development grant from the National Science Foundation. The team is now working on building a larger prototype.

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