Mobility is central to human life and endeavor. The modern era of automobiles and planes have enabled unprecedented levels of mobility and has brought unparalleled prosperity to our species. As we continue to understand and fight the scourge of climate change, there is a pressing need for the future of mobility to be sustainable.

Electric powered mobility offers a path towards sustainable transport but many hurdles need to be overcome. In regards to terrestrial mobility, justifiably enough attention is given to batteries and electric motors, an overlooked aspect is the aerodynamics of the car itself. Alongside electrification, there is a…

2020 has been the year for lithium metal. Lithium metal batteries, which promise to deliver about 50% improvement in energy delivered per weight and volume, appear to be ready for primetime. The main challenge thus far has been to stop the formation of dendrites, needle-like patterns of metal deposition that, if left unchecked, can create dangerous short-circuits, leading to fires. It now appears the battery field has dendrites under control, it is time to satisfy other important performance requirements needed for vehicles and other devices.

Lithium metal batteries are seen as a viable option for electric vehicles (EV’s) and electric…

Lithium metal batteries have drawn enormous attention over the last month. Lithium metal is the holy grail in batteries as it has the potential to bring a substantial boost to the energy density over current Li-ion batteries. One of the central problems in using metallic lithium involves suppressing the formation of filament-like structures, popularly called dendrites. Many material classes have been explored as electrolytes to address this: ceramics, polymers, and composites. Now, we find that there is a new material class worth exploring: liquid crystals.

In 2017, my group was pursuing several approaches to suppressing dendrites. Around this time, I…

Our latest paper in Nature Materials with Brett Helms’ group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is the result of a five-year effort in understanding electrodeposition instabilities at solid-solid interfaces, leading to high-performing lithium metal based batteries. In this article, we aim to dig deeper into the journey of how we got here.

In the fall of 2015, we began exploring the role of mechanical properties in stabilizing lithium electrodeposition at solid-solid interfaces in solid state batteries. Previous results from an elegant linear stability analysis performed by Monroe and Newman suggested that solids with sufficiently large moduli could block dendrite growth…

I was going to spend a portion of my summer in California and I was debating whether to drive cross-country or have a rental for my summer stay. Cross-country trips are challenging enough but in this case, it turns out to be even more interesting since I drive a Tesla Model S with a 60 kWhr battery pack (rated range is close to the newly announced Tesla Model 3). I have owned it for about 2 and half years and have done several drives to Washington DC and back. It has largely been seamless and very comfortable especially given the…

In my earlier post, we discussed about the time delay between homework attempts. We found that majority attempted the homework immediately instead of going back to the content and re-learning the material. However, we did observe a trend that as the homeworks got harder, the time delay between attempts indeed increased.

In this post, we will discuss how engagement in the forums correlated with the final score. In this analysis, we will only track engagement through actual forum posts, forum upvotes or downvotes. It is a bit harder to track the amount of time spent in the forum.

Before we…

I’ll try to distill some insights we were able to glean from the data from the first offering of our MOOC. We are offering the course again and it starts on Monday, April 25. Please share with those that might be interested.

In a series of posts, I’ll share what we learnt from the data from last year. One thing at the outset: it is quite incredible the quality and granularity of the data that we can get on learners’ learning behaviors.

The course consisted of 5 homeworks and the “final exam” consisted of essentially, the “hardest” questions from the…

We embarked on an adventure last year offering a MOOC on Statistical Thermodynamics: Molecules to Machines. It is now time to do the second offering of the course. This version launches on Monday, April 25. The course is now open for enrollment.

We are offering a few enhancements from last time:

  • New videos for Theory and Application Modules
  • Course extended from 6 to 7 weeks for a more reasonable weekly workload
  • Handouts greatly improved including a summary section that outlines the content to be covered.
  • New Statistics module through Carnegie Mellon OLI to accommodate learners without prior Statistics exposure.

The genesis of the idea was during the year when I was a post-doc at MIT. As luck would have it, it turned out that my friend, Frank Wang, had also started his PhD there at MIT. He was fresh off his extremely successful MOOC with Dan Boneh on cryptography. I talked about doing online learning during my faculty interviews, but the ideas were still vague and needed some crystallizing.

Through a few months, I was finally able to nail down, through my discussions with Frank Wang and the course design team at Acatar, what I wanted to do and…

I am going to embark on an interesting adventure running a massive online open course (MOOC) on thermodynamics. I will write a series of posts covering my experiences in putting this together and running the course.

It now feels like ages ago, when I was listening to my friend, Frank Wang narrating about his experiences helping Dan Boneh teach his crypotography class on Coursera. This planted the first seeds in my head about online learning; but I was still a PhD student at this point. This was a focal point of discussions during my faculty interviews but it was still…

Venkat Viswanathan

Associate Professor @CarnegieMellon University, Advanced Batteries, Electrochemical Devices

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