It Takes a Village to Create Solid Electrolytes

By Kevin Clemens – Presently, commercial lithium ion batteries use a carbon graphite anode electrode and a metal oxide cathode electrode. They are separated by a liquid organic solvent that can pass lithium ions between the electrodes while preventing electrons from making the journey. The organic solvent of the electrolyte is flammable—resulting in a potential for a fire in the event that a lithium ion battery is punctured.

The anode side of a lithium ion battery is made from layers of graphite. Lithium ions are inserted between the material’s layers during charging and are released during discharge. Battery researchers realize that replacing the graphite anode with metallic lithium would allow many more lithium ions to flow during discharge, producing a battery with at least twice the capacity. But during the charging stage of a lithium metal battery, spiky crystalline structures, called dendrites, form on the metal surface. These dendrites can grow through the liquid electrolyte, reaching the cathode and shorting out the battery.

A worldwide search is on for a solid or semi-solid electrolyte that can prevent dendrite growth while allowing the easy passage of lithium ions without conducting electrons. more>

Colliding Worlds: Donald Trump And The European Union

By Michael Cottakis – US President Donald Trump is not naturally inclined towards the EU. The EU represents the antithesis of what Trump aspires for in himself, or of the value he sees in others. For the President, the EU is an essentially effete project – a civilian power that likes to see itself as human rights based and collegiate, but with no hard power of its own. It is not a real force in the world because it cannot project military power, or speak with a single, unified voice, putting its interests first.

A defensive Brussels, reeling from recent crises and keen to assert itself as an important international actor may, with provocation, respond.

The European Commission tends to respond to Trump’s provocations with smugness and belittlement. Other European leaders are cannier and understand better the risks of such an approach. Emmanuel Macron has adopted the guise of the EU’s chief diplomat to the US, speaking regularly with Trump. Climate change, Iran, trade policy and Syria have all been on the French President’s agenda. While discussions remain relatively cordial, little impact is being made in policy terms.

The international system is greatly changed. A battle of new world views, political and socio-economic models is at play in which new authoritarian values gain ground at the expense of traditional ‘western’ values. The international influence of the US is determined not only by the number of its weapons, or the power of its commerce. Traditionally, it is a consequence also of its power of attraction, the emancipatory quality of its core values – democracy, human rights, economic openness. These values, and their adoption by third countries, have helped drive the world to levels of prosperity never before experienced.

These achievements ought not to be squandered. more>

Local Solutions for Global Problems

By Sébastien Turbot – Historically, cities have played a marginal role in global debates. In the United States, for example, early cities were rife with corruption and factionalism; local politics was messy enough. But today’s urban centers are economically stronger and politically bolder. Twenty-first-century cities’ determination to act in their own interests became clear in late 2017, when more than 50 US mayors pledged to meet the commitments of the 2015 Paris climate agreement – directly challenging President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the deal.

Even without a seat at the table (G7), many of the world’s megacities – powered by strong human capital, competitive markets, and widespread appeal – are already working to build a more progressive, inclusive, and sustainable future. From Buenos Aires to Tokyo, city leaders are making their concerns known globally – often irrespective of national agendas.

Small and mid-sized cities are also raising their international profiles. By investing in “smart” and “resilient” urban planning, governments from Bordeaux in France to Curitiba in Brazil are strengthening their brand identities and luring talent, investment, and businesses from around the world.

Cities power growth through innovation, trade, and exchange. And city services are often more visible to citizens than federal aid; consider, for example, who responds during a traffic accident or a natural disaster.

To be sure, today’s cities face many challenges. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Are you ready for personalized pricing?
By Brian Wallheimer – The introduction of the price tag was a big step forward for American retailing, and you can thank John Wanamaker. In the 1870s, Wanamaker purchased a former Philadelphia railroad depot and expanded his men’s clothing business to include women’s clothing and dry goods.

Along with Macy’s in New York and other department stores popping up in major cities, Wanamaker’s Grand Depot revolutionized how people shopped, primarily by placing many different items under one roof. But it went a step further and changed not only where people purchased items but how they paid. It adopted the price tag.

Until that point, pricing had involved a dance between clerk and customer. When a customer picked up a shirt and admired it, a clerk had to know how much the product cost the store, the overhead associated with storing it, competitors’ prices, and more. Meanwhile, he had to figure out, was the customer in a hurry and willing to pay more, or had he come prepared to negotiate for a steeper discount?

With more than 100 product counters to staff, Wanamaker didn’t have time to teach employees the fine art of haggling. Instead, he affixed a note to every item in the store with the amount a customer was expected to pay. more>

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Updates from Ciena

5 key wireline network improvements needed for 5G
By Brian Lavallee – Ask an end-user about how their phone connects to the network, and they’ll likely only talk about cellular or wireless technology, which is also where most of the current 5G industry hype is focused, and for good reason, as this is the first part of the network to be upgraded. However, the reality is that RAN (Radio Access Network) only makes up a small portion of the end-to-end path that data from a connected device must travel to provide connectivity. The rest of the path is primarily a fiber-optic transport network.

With 5G coming soon, featuring data rates as much as 100 times faster than what’s currently available, the wireline infrastructure that connects end-users (man and machine) to accessed content residing in data centers, must be ready to support upwards of 1,000 times more data flowing across it.

How can network operators prepare? Well, here are five key areas within the wireline network that will need to be upgraded and modernized to support 5G.

  1. Fronthaul
  2. Scalability
  3. Densification
  4. Virtualization
  5. Network Slicing

The move to 5G won’t be a simple network upgrade. It’s a long journey with a high-performance wireline network as the critical component to commercial success for both 4G strategies and the evolution toward 5G. more>

An Inside Look at Smart Cities

Bank of America Merrill Lynch – Countless people and technologies keep our cities safe, clean, and efficient; some we interact with in plain sight, and others operate beneath the surface, improving our lives in ways we don’t fully realize.

But for all the richness of cities, urban living can be filled with challenges, from traffic jams to taxed energy systems to overcrowded sidewalks and transit. Many of these difficulties are rooted in dated infrastructure – so as the number of people living in cities continues to rise, investing in and modernizing city infrastructure becomes critical.

The ultimate goal? Creating a “smart city” – one that leverages technology to improve quality of life for its residents, and creates better systems and structures to support it. One that looks ahead to future generations and starts the work now to meet those needs. Investing in the “smartness” of a city not only modernizes it, but creates a stronger, more sustainable place to live and work.

The good news is that the challenge of creating a smart city presents great opportunities. In fact, the smart city market could grow from an estimated US$1 trillion in 20174 to US$3.5 trillion by the mid-2020s. This means opportunities for companies, investors and, of course, the residents themselves. How do you uncover those opportunities?

Step one is imagining what it might be like to live in a “smart city”. more>

How nations come together

By Andreas Wimmer – Why do some countries fall apart, often along their ethnic fault lines, while others have held together over decades and centuries, despite governing a diverse population as well?

Why is it, in other words, that nation-building succeeded in some places while it failed in others?

The current tragedy in Syria illustrates the possibly murderous consequences of failed nation-building.

Some old countries (such as Belgium) haven’t come together as a nation, while other more recently founded states (such as India) have done so.

There are two sides to the nation-building coin: the extension of political alliances across the terrain of a country, and the identification with and loyalty to the institutions of the state, independent of who currently governs. The former is the political-integration aspect, the latter the political-identity aspect of nation-building.

To foster both, political ties between citizens and the state should reach across ethnic divides.

A comparison between Switzerland and Belgium, two countries of similar size, with a similar linguistic composition of the population, and comparable levels of economic development, provides an example.

In Switzerland, civil society organizations – such as shooting clubs, reading circles and choral societies – developed throughout the territory during the late 18th and first half of the 19th century. They spread evenly throughout the country because modern industries emerged across all the major regions, and because Switzerland’s city-states lacked both the capacity and the motivation to suppress them.

In Belgium, by contrast, Napoleon, as well as the Dutch king who succeeded him, recognized the revolutionary potential of such voluntary associations, and suppressed them. more>

How To Manage Mission-Crippling Surprises In Your New Job

By George Bradt – Executive onboarding is the key to accelerating success and reducing risk in a new job.

People generally fail in new executive roles because of poor fit, poor delivery or poor adjustment to a change down the road. They accelerate success by

  1. getting a head start,
  2. managing the message,
  3. setting direction and building the team and
  4. sustaining momentum and delivering results.

Make it about the mission, not about you. Find common ground/purpose. Influence others to do things that help them achieve what’s most important to them, not you. more>

Updates from Siemens

Generative Design in Solid Edge: Optimize Shapes to Achieve Design Goals
Siemens – Generative design in Solid Edge integrates advanced topology optimization within the Solid Edge 3D modeling toolkit, helping designers to create lighter components, minimize material waste in downstream manufacturing. Generative design produces an organic, reduced-mass geometric solution of a specific material optimized within a defined space, accounting for permissible loads and constraints.

These highly customized designs are well-suited for casting or high-resolution 3D printing, or they can be modified for traditional manufacturing. more (pdf)>

Why The Only Answer Is To Break Up The Biggest Wall Street Banks

By Robert Reich – Glass-Steagall’s key principle was to keep risky assets away from insured deposits. It worked well for more than half century. Then Wall Street saw opportunities to make lots of money by betting on stocks, bonds, and derivatives (bets on bets) – and in 1999 persuaded Bill Clinton and a Republican congress to repeal it.

Nine years later, Wall Street had to be bailed out, and millions of Americans lost their savings, their jobs, and their homes.

Why didn’t America simply reinstate Glass-Steagall after the last financial crisis? Because too much money was at stake. Wall Street was intent on keeping the door open to making bets with commercial deposits. So instead of Glass-Steagall, we got the Volcker Rule – almost 300 pages of regulatory mumbo-jumbo, riddled with exemptions and loopholes.

Now those loopholes and exemptions are about to get even bigger, until they swallow up the Volcker Rule altogether. If the latest proposal goes through, we’ll be nearly back to where we were before the crash of 2008. more>