Fourth Exploratory Round Table Conference in Shanghai on Electrochemistry - revisited

A simple photoelectric device (from B. C. Wood, T. Ogitsu, and E. Schwegler, “Ab initio modeling of water–semiconductor interfaces for photocatalytic water splitting: role of surface oxygen and hydroxyl”, Journal of Photonics for Energy, Vol. 1, 2011, 016002)

The Fourth Exploratory Round Table Conference or ERTC, on the topic of “Electrochemistry - revisited”, takes place in Shanghai from 18 to 20 November 2013 under the auspices of the Shanghai Institute for Advanced Studies. The event is the fourth of a new series of annual conferences which are intended to provide a joint platform for scientists of both Max Planck Society (MPG) and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) together with international leading scientists to discuss and evaluate newly emerging and rapidly evolving fields of research. The two supporting organisations thus create visions and seeds towards the establishments of topical areas at the leading edge of science. As such, the ERTC adds a novel instrument to ongoing processes of priority-setting in the further development of the research portfolio of both organisations.

Electrochemistry is addressed whenever — in a broad sense — electrical signals are con-verted into chemical signals or vice versa. This includes mutual conversion of chemical and electrical energy as well as mutual conversion of electrical and chemical information.

As a typical interdisciplinary area, this concerns such different applications as energy conversion and storage in the context of future energy supply of our world, electromobili-ty and electrotraction, sensing and controlling the chemical environment, via gas sensors, or the understanding of nerve propagation in living systems.

Moreover, electrochemistry possesses a great unifying potential. Understanding of electric phenomena together with accompanying chemical changes as well as understanding chemical phenomena connected with electrical effects is not possible without electro-chemistry.

The often-met conviction electrochemistry would be a settled or even old-fashioned area is a grave fallacy and is based on a certain self-narrowing of the field. Hence it is pertinent to “revisit Electrochemistry” in particular as far as the areas of great perspectives represented by the four selected subthemes are concerned.

Migrating Oxygen in a Ba0.5Sr0.5CoO2.875 Crystal

Most of the materials of interest are solids. Nonetheless, the usual treatment of solids in electrochemistry is superficial. It is the concept of defect chemistry that allows treating them in depth and that also allows for a generalized picture of chemical excitations.

Needless to say that exploitation of light in this context is of prime significance, particularly in view of abundance of solar energy as well as of the unbeatable benefits that light offers in terms of information transmission.

The consideration of electrical properties as far as biology is concerned, has a long tradition. Yet, the explanation of bioelectrical processes beyond its sheer importance for bio-logical systems offers incredible perspectives.

While these fields are characterized by conceptual features, the recent developments in computer power and software have advanced computational electrochemistry and its potential for resolving the fundamental processes involved. Here the challenge is the adequate treatment of the combination of chemical variations and electric field effects in reasonably large systems.

The Exploratory Round Table Conference aims at inspecting and discussing the potential as well as structural shortcomings of electrochemical research in general and of the above areas in particular. The results will provide a basis for further considerations by CAS and MPG.


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