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When supported by suitable metal oxides such as ceria, platinum often displays increased catalytic activity and selectivity. A chemical vapor infiltration technique was used to impregnate Pt nanoparticles into an ordered mesoporous gadolinium-doped ceria (OMG), which was templated from KIT-6 silica. High Pt loading, up to 38 vol% of OMG, was achieved. This synthesis method is highly scalable and offers easy control over catalyst–support geometry. A detailed study of the OMG structure was conducted by controlling the synthesis parameters of the KIT-6 silica template. Formation mechanism and thermal stability of the OMG/Pt–OMG composite were also studied. The mesostructure composites were found to sustain until 750 and 650 °C, respectively. The highly structural composite holds the promise of increased activity, selectivity, and stability for applications in heterogeneous catalysis.
Oxygen reduction in SOFC cathodes has long been the rate determining step in SOFC operations, mixed ionic-electronic conductors (MIECs) and/or forming composite between cathode and electrolyte materials have been common strategies in order to aid the cathode kinetics. We demonstrate here a viable synthesis route to impregnate mesopores with high loading of platinum towards a mesoscale bicontinuous material that composed of channels of a fast ionic conductor, i.e. gadolinium doped ceria (GDC) intertwined with channels of a good electronic conductor, i.e. Pt. This highly structural composite material holds the promise of a high performing cathode in SOFC.
The science of extra-solar planets is one of the most rapidly changing areas of astrophysics and since 1995 the number of planets known has increased by almost two orders of magnitude. A combination of ground-based surveys and dedicated space missions has resulted in 560-plus planets being detected, and over 1200 that await confirmation. NASA's Kepler mission has opened up the possibility of discovering Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around some of the 100,000 stars it is surveying during its 3 to 4-year lifetime. The new ESA's Gaia mission is expected to discover thousands of new planets around stars within 200 parsecs of the Sun. The key challenge now is moving on from discovery, important though that remains, to characterisation: what are these planets actually like, and why are they as they are?
In the past ten years, we have learned how to obtain the first spectra of exoplanets using transit transmission and emission spectroscopy. With the high stability of Spitzer, Hubble, and large ground-based telescopes the spectra of bright close-in massive planets can be obtained and species like water vapour, methane, carbon monoxide and dioxide have been detected. With transit science came the first tangible remote sensing of these planetary bodies and so one can start to extrapolate from what has been learnt from Solar System probes to what one might plan to learn about their faraway siblings. As we learn more about the atmospheres, surfaces and near-surfaces of these remote bodies, we will begin to build up a clearer picture of their construction, history and suitability for life.
The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory, EChO, will be the first dedicated mission to investigate the physics and chemistry of Exoplanetary Atmospheres. By characterising spectroscopically more bodies in different environments we will take detailed planetology out of the Solar System and into the Galaxy as a whole.
EChO has now been selected by the European Space Agency to be assessed as one of four M3 mission candidates.
Historical records of the Nile water level provide a unique opportunity to investigate the possibility that solar variability influences the Earth's climate. Particularly important are the annual records of the water level, which are uninterrupted for the years 622–1470 A.D. These records are non-stationary, so that standard spectral analyses cannot adequately characterize them. Here the Empirical Mode Decomposition technique, which is designed to deal with non-stationary, nonlinear time series, becomes useful. It allows the identification of two characteristic time scales in the water level data that can be linked to solar variability: the 88 year period and a time scale of about 200 years. These time scales are also present in the concurrent aurora data. Auroras are driven by coronal mass ejections and the rate of auroras is an excellent proxy for solar variabiliy. Analysis of auroral data contemporaneous with the Nile data shows peaks at 88 years and about 200 years. This suggests a physical link between solar variability and the low-frequency variations of the Nile water level. The link involves the influence of solar variability on the North Annual Mode of atmospheric variability and its North Atlantic and Indian Oceans patterns that affect rainfall over Eastren Equatorial Africa where the Nile originates.
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