Wednesday, August 7, 2013

No More Cities, No More Castles, No More Being a Tourist

A Change of Priorities
After being here for two months and touring around every city, every castle, every museum, every mountain, every river, every church, and every other tourist trap you can think of, I think I am officially done.  I do not want to be a tourist anymore.  In fact, in the last week and a half, I want to work and spend some time with some old friends.
This picture was taken 3 years ago in Karlsruhe with my best friend, Lisa.
Actually, I think I was done after visiting Berlin because that city was huge and there was just so much to do.  After I experienced Berlin, something just snapped were I was like I do not need to see any other city (besides Paris) now.  I do not need to see everything because that is an impossible feat and honestly you stop enjoying Europe when you just see one thing after the other.  Everything, every city and every castle, start to blur together, and, in the end, do you even really remember what you did and why you enjoyed it?  That is why for the last week and a half I have decided that this weekend I am going to a German spa and getting a lovely massage and I am going to visit my best friend and her grandparents where I originally stayed three years ago.  I hope to catch up with them and have some lovely conversations.  I hope that there will be a lot of laughter and happiness to be shared and that is what I want to remember about Germany.

When I think about all the moments of this trip where I had a lot of fun and enjoyed myself the most, the moments that come to mind immediately are Europa Park with Matt and Alex, going to the Biergarten with Jenny, Alex, Aquil, Matt, and Daniel one night and almost getting thrown out for laughing and being too loud, spending time in Primark with Lisa and blowing 100 euro easy, and just moments like that.  Seeing Europe is fabulous, but I think I have a higher priority on who I am spending time with.  The moments where I have laughed the most have definitely been the best.  At the same time, I was seeing and experiencing Europe but in a more relaxed, joyful manner.

I believe that's why when I go to Paris.  I want to see Paris, but the only definite tourist trap I am going into is Versailles because it is the one thing I need to see just like with Switzerland I needed to see the Alps.  For the remainder of the time, I want to find a Parisian dress. I want to hang out in a cute little French cafe and enjoy my company.  However, I do not know if I want to do anything else in Paris besides just hang out with Jenny, Alex, Matt, and Aquil.  I also hope we can see Dr. Emilie so we can say goodbye to her.  That is how my priorities in Europe have changed.

Chocolate, Swatches, and Roller Coasters
When I was in Lucerne, I thought it was beautiful and charming.  With Matt and Alex, I saw the Alps and the city.  When I saw swatches, I was like I NEED A SWATCH; however, I waited to buy it in case I changed my mind.  I did not, and I kept complaining about not having the watch the entire day.  I listed benefits of having a watch and having a Swiss made watch.  I probably drove Matt and Alex insane.  At 4:04pm. I went back to the Swatch shop only to find that it had closed.  Well, I complained even more about not having a watch and kept thinking of different way to get a Swatch.  I decided to wait until I got back in the USA to order one.  Well, while Alex and I were exploring the city and looking for a movie theater, we decided to ask someone where to find one in a watch store.  Guess what this Swiss watch store had?  SWATCHES!  So, I got my Swiss watch which I am still in love with even though it ticks like crazy when I am trying to go to sleep.

After Switzerland, Alex, Matt, and I decided at midnight to go to Europa Park at 5am in the morning.  We hopped on a train the next day and had a relaxing time going on water rides, roller coasters, and more.  I have to say Europa Park has to be one of the best experiences and I am glad that I had the opportunity to go there again.

If you want to watch what we did, it's located in this video here.  Keep in mind I did it in less than two hours and the music transitions are horrible and I added some cheesy quotes so it was more than just pictures, music, and some video content.

All Work and No Play... There's No Such Thing in Science
Even with some major setbacks like no tubing and no electrolyte, I still have been able to get pretty far with researching separators.  These past weeks I measured the thickness of the mats that I had spun and found the rate of deposition for Chitosan.  Unfortunately, I have to repeat my tests with Polypropylene because something went wrong.  I also made a poster for the INM poster session which is tomorrow and I am a little nervous for.  We shall see how everything goes.

It's been a while

Sorry that I haven't posted in a few weeks, Things have been kinda crazy. The weekend after Lyon we went to Luxembourg. Their we toured the city and walked through the fortifications that once surrounded the city.
We saw a flea market with some really cool stuff and relaxed by the river for a bit.

The week after that we went to Berlin stayed in a hostel and biked around the city. On my last day there I got distracted at Berlin's largest flea market and missed my train back to Saarbrucken 

The week after that we visited Luzern Switzerland. Unfortunately my phone's battery died while there so I don't have any pictures from there. but It was absolutely beautiful. The water of Lake Lucerne were remarkably clear and the view from the Alps was outstanding. 

My research is also going fairly well. tomorrow the INM is having a poster session where we will present what we have so far. It will be good practice for the STAR Summer Showcase at Drexel.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Work, Play                                                                                 
Legend has it, the ancient Greek scientist Archimedes shouted “eureka”, and ran naked through the streets upon having discovered a non-destructive method to calculate the density of solidified materials. While, my “eureka” moment, wasn’t so pronounced, it was similarly enlightening. Throughout the course of this project, I failed to fully comprehend exactly the electrochemical test, chronoampometry (CA). While I had a general understanding of the test, my focus had been on other characterization methods, like cyclic voltammetry, but now my research advanced to the point where CA tests were necessary. On a train running from Mannheim to Basel, on my way from Saarbrucken to Switzerland, late Friday night, I read through several journal papers specifically discussing CA measurement techniques. Suddenly, everything clicked into place, making sense. During chronoampometry, the supercapacitor is pushed to a specific current, and the voltage output is tracked. This is the polar opposite of cyclic voltammetry, where a specified potential is applied, and the current response is measured. Unfortunately, I soon learned one of my files had not been converted into a text format, remaining it its original abnormal project format, and I was unable to plot the CA data immediately. After the agonizing wait, alleviated a bit by a trip to the alps on Saturday, followed by a day at Europa-park, today, I finished this weekends quest, and plot the CA graphs of my data. 

Privilege, Productivity
Switzerland was even more beautiful and relaxing than advertised, and I fully intend to go back to the Alps in the future. Pictures and videos do not fully capture the feeling standing among, and on them. Equally true, is Switzerlands reputation for being extremely expensive. Luckily, I took heed of this reputation, and purchased a lot of food to take with me on my weekend trip. Actually, food has been my greatest expense in Europe.  I bought at German rail pass, which covered 30 days in all of Germany, 2 days in Switzerland, and 2 days in Belgium, for just 109 euros, and I have been staying in cheep hostels (10-20 euro per night). Its when everywhere charges 4 euro for a drink half the size of a small soda in the US, and the cheapest option on the menu is a personal pizza at 15 euro, that the expenses truly start getting up there. To be completely honest, I have been pretty thrifty while in Europe, carrying around a 1.5 litter bottle with me, and just refilling it with water. Paying 3.50 euros for a few sips of chilled water in a bottle, just doesn’t work for me. Also, the grocery store near my apartment is relatively inexpensive (comparable to food prices in the US), so I have been making and packing nearly all my meals. At the same time, I have also shelled out for some things, paying the incomprehensible price of 15 franks (~$15) for a box of Swiss chocolates to bring back home for my dad. In the end of this internship, I will have toured many cities in Europe, done the work I love (scientific research), and saved around 75% of my STAR stipend. When people pay thousands to come to see Europe for 2 weeks, and I get to make that amount to come here for 2 months, while obtaining research experience, I can’t help but feel incredibly blessed, and privileged to have this opportunity. Rarely, do people get so much, and I am overwhelmingly grateful to Drexel, and the INM for arranging this program.  

Learning, Business
This program has also been a tremendous learning experience, and has opened my mind to markets that I did not even know existed. Aside from my interest in science, I am fascinated by business practices. Seeing Europe has shown me a whole new side to business. As an aspiring business owner, this is invaluable. A good example of this can be found at Europa-park, one of the largest, arguably best amusement/theme park in all of Europe.  On Sunday around noon, having seen much of Lucerne, Switzerland, I stopped by Europa-park, which was on my way back to Saarbrucken. At Europa-park, different companies sponsor many of the large rollercoasters. For example, Mercedes-Benz sponsors a ride, known as the Silver Star, 100% operated on solar energy. While waiting in line to get on the amusement ride, you are lead through a series of rooms filled with pro-Mercedes-Benz advertising and information. If the wait is around 15 minutes per ride, that’s 15 minutes to convince a person that a companies product is worth getting, and-at the very least- make them remember a product. Most companies are willing to pay thousands, to get a television viewers attention for 15 seconds, let alone 15 minutes. Thousands of people enter Europa-park per day, and nearly all of them go to the Silver Star at some point. All those who do, are treated to a 15-minute infomercial for Mercedes-Benz. This is not isolated to one example. Other coasters and rides are clearly sponsored by both established and startup companies. This corporate partnership between Mercedes, and Europa-park, aligns both company’s interests, allowing for combined growth. Europa-park now does not have to spend money for electricity to keep the rides running, consequently saving money. Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, has to shell out a bit of money (though it pales in comparison to the amount spent on commercials), and yet reaps many rewords. If just one person per month, only twelve per year, out of the hundreds-of-thousands that visit, ultimately purchases a car because of seeds planted while sitting in line, Mercedes-Benz still has made money. Should they have more future buyers influenced by the seeds planted during that wait in line, Mercedes-Benz stands to make a lot of money. Now Europa-park has to be careful with their partnerships, because they don’t want to ruin the experiences of vacationers by an inflow of advertisement. Accordingly, many rides do not have corporate sponsors, but rather a story or atmosphere is built into the wait in line. For the most part, and perhaps with particular exception to a little theme park down in Florida (where your dreams come true), in the US, when waiting for a roller coaster, you simply wait in a throng of sweaty people. At Europa-park, your either immersed in interesting visuals sponsored by a company, or your consumed in the theme of the ride. In business, the little details can save your company enormous expenses, so such collaborations can be enormously beneficial. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The End Of the Story...For Now

It’s funny how a pair of really sad looking, ripped, scuffed and torn to the point where only a few shreds of rubber hold together enough to make the boot shape is really a beautiful thing. The boots are not disgraceful or ugly, though they may be useless for they are no longer water-proof or army ant-proof. They are a sign to everyone that someone has lived, someone has worn theses boots enough for them to fall apart. Someone has worked their butt off. (Literally.) I believe I have done all of this in Monteverde. They made their last journey to La Colina yesterday, and were gently placed to their rest in the dumpster.

I have been square dancing which is infinitely more fun when everyone is there by choice and not because it is forced upon you in gym class. Bennie Guindon would call out and teach us all of the dances and everyone took turns joining in. Whether you were playing the male’s or female’s part, turning the wrong way, or trodding on your partner’s feet everyone was laughing. David, one of the Guindon’s college-age grandsons, and I made a valiant attempt at doing the polka...and we failed miserably. That’s ok. Half the fun is laughing at yourself. 
I attended another Quaker meeting which was followed by a potluck to celebrate their moving into their new meeting house. (Just gorgeous by the way.)
This was their last meeting in the current meeting house, soon to be remodeled into more classrooms for the Friends school, so this meeting a great deal more people in attendance. There was not a single seat left. Before silence was to be observed for meeting, everyone sang hymns together. With no organ and no chorus and just one person who really knows all the tunes to lead the way, the sound of the Quaker’s singing can be off key but it holds its own charm and organic-ness. Kaitlin and I joined in. Then came the hour of silence. But it was punctuated by people rising to say a few words: some memories and gratitude to the old meeting house for sheltering them, others pleads for the congregation to pray for someone in need. I wrote a bit during this hour. Here’s what I wrote:

An Observation of a Quaker Meeting:

The Quakers have it right. Their sense of community is without equal. They sit in comforting silence until one, moved to speak, stand and asks the congregation to hold their child, in need of brain surgery, in the light. Silence again falls in the meeting house. Breathe is inhaled, breathe is exhaled. The air is heavy with the thoughts and prayers of the people who have dedicated their life to peace on this Earth, to fairness, and to acceptance. Though I am not religious, and I do not share their faith in a God above, all is welcome to sit with them. Some clasp their hands and bow their heads in quiet grace. Others, taking the hand of the person next to them and folding it in their own, raise their chins, their eyes above staring at some distant being. A smile touches the corner of their lips ad if the far spirit is an old friend. One day they may be called to join the spirit and I imagine her turning to meet it with grace knowing that their time on this Earth is at an end and knowing too that it was time well spent, a life well lived, a heart dearly loved by those around her and returns it with equal affection. “The spirit of love and sharing” is alive. It fills the room making it full. It touches and is touched by everyone donates a piece of themselves to this until the air seems thick and the windows seem about to burst. How this house holds its entirety I do not know. Perhaps it is the magic of the Quakers, their legacy left behind on the Earth for the next generation: How does one love their neighbor? The answer is fully and with your whole being. Though the time spent (bi)weekly in quiet tranquility in this house is coming to a close, I am reminded that this light is not dependent upon these walls. It comes from within and can always be called upon and more importantly shared. Though these walls are imbued with laughter, prayer and memories, and forever will be, it is alright that this chapter is coming to its final sentences. It’s ok for a story to come to its end for when it does, it only leaves room for another to begin. 

There were many celebrations for the moving into the new meeting house: skits, songs, a brief history of the current meeting house.
Taken by Kaitlin Baudier
Though my personal favorite was the potluck! The people here, besides being great cooks, are incredibly inviting and open. To finish off one of our last nights in Monteverde, the Guidins once again invited us into their home for family night. After a stuffing meal at the potluck, I would like to say that I ate a very light dinner but no...the bottomless pit that is my stomach was all like “FOOD! FEED ME NOW!” There was a chocolate cake again, this time with mint chocolate icing and ice cream from the dairy! I probably ate way too much that day. Ms. Mary and I talked a great deal on our last day in Monteverde. Kaitlin and Tessa decided they wanted to go see the Cloud Forest Reserve; I was of the frame of mind that I had already been in the cloud forests and did not feel the allure to go into the reserve that they did so I hung around the house. Ms. Mary, hearing from most likely Kaitlin, that I love to cook made the comment that maybe I should think about going into the food industry than medicine. I remarked back that I love food. I love to grow it, cook it, and LOVE to eat it but I don’t think I could make a living out of it while keeping my enthusiasm for it. She said I should be careful otherwise I will end up growing in the wrong way, the horizontal way. I said that that is what the triathlons are for. 
The next morning my boots made their final journey to La Colina. We caught a bus to our hotel in Playa Hermosa for two days of well earned vacation. Working every day, including weekends, for six weeks, yes we deserve this. Here I have gotten over my seafood dislike which is awesome! A whole new area of cuisine has been opened to me! It’s quite liberating actually. Last night we went out to a little local place right on the beach and watched the sun set. I’ve seen sunsets over the great lakes, over tree lines and bluffs but a sunset over the pacific really is the most stunning.

Today we leave Playa Hermosa and go to Liberia where we will fly out of tomorrow. My time spent here in Costa Rica has rejuvenated me. I once listened to a motivational speaker who compared us to fish bowls. When we are born, we are completely clear, nothing to block the view at the bottom of the bowl and as we grow, pebbles are added and clutter the bowl and we lose sight of the bottom of that bowl: who we are. Costa Rica has definitely removed some of my pebbles. I can’t believe my time here was considered “work.” I return to the States with a new outlook on my life. I feel positive. It’s a new month, the past is behind me and my future is whatever I make it to be. I hope I keep this new philosophy, the pebbles out of my bowl, and wear through many more pairs of boots. 
Taken by Kaitlin Baudier

Monday, July 29, 2013

Back in the USA

After almost 6 amazing weeks abroad and more than 24 hours of travelling, I have finally made it back home to the United States. I can't believe how fast time flew by and what an incredible experience I  have been having so far. While I am sad to be home , it'll be nice to finish my work in quiet and to see some of my friends and family who I haven't seen in quite some time.

Here is an update of my last week in Greece before returning back home:

On Monday, I looked at different bilateral agreements between different coastal nations in Europe as well as different countries views on maritime laws, etc. I also learned more about the Greek education system during class which was cool to compare our system to theirs.

On Tuesday I got to go to a place called Arkadi which was a Holocaust Monastery high up in the mountains between Heraklion and Chania. This monastery played a big role in Cretan history during the Ottoman empire. Many Cretans resisted the Ottoman rule and took refuge in this monastery before sacrificing themselves after 3 days of battle rather than surrendering to the Ottoman rule. The monastery itself was really beautiful  and it was interesting to see all the sites.

After this we went to Kournas Lake, a huge natural lake nestled between mountains and then we headed to Rethymno, another big city on the island of Crete and a major university town. To end the day, we went to the movie theater to watch “A Green Story,” a movie about a Greek entrepreneur who started a green company in California called Earth Friendly Products and who has a major green laundry detergent called Ecos which is sold all over the USA. It was the story about his life and all that he went through to make his company happen.

After class on Wednesday I worked on my research finishing up most of my notes for the paper. I only have a few more sections to go and then I can actually start compiling what I have found and put it into dissertation format. I started to work on the historical background part of the actual paper and I’m glad it’s finally starting to come along.

On Thursday  we went to a pottery factory where they showed us how they make different clay pots from start to finish and then they even let each one of us make our own mini piece of pottery art. After this, we went to the small village of Ross Daly-Houdesti where there is a huge museum and school for lyras (a violin-type musical instrument). We got a tour of the museum to see many different types of lyras and heard about a huge music festival that will be taking place there next week which we will unfortunately miss. Next we went to the Kazantzakis museum to learn all about the famous writer. We got to see a short film on his life and learn about how smart and talented this guy was. Not only did he write hundreds of books, he knew many languages and was a hard-working and well-travelled man.

Friday was the last day of classes and the last day to work on my research while in Crete. I started to finish up my writing on the historical background section and felt like I made a lot of progress. We also  all presented our research in front of the class and then talked about what we liked or didn’t like about the trip and what suggestions we would make to make the abroad experience better.

The Ghost...Cow...Horse

So there we were, in the pitch dark, chasing after a car like crazy serial killers. As the car turned the corner taking the light of its headlights with it, I thought to myself “how did I end up here?” But all in good time. 

June 27,2013
Yesterday was a pretty packed day for us. After walking up the mountain towards the Cloud Forest Reserve, we came along a dog. This dog stood apart from the other Costa Rican dogs we had seen earlier. For starters, she lacked the tiny legs that almost all dogs from around here sport. (Actually, it’s a type of dominant dwarfism very similar to human acondroplasia.) Secondly, unlike the native dogs who follow for a short distance before returning home, this dog followed us all day. She went with us to all our site checks and followed us back down the hill, all the way past where we originally found her and to La Colina. We had caught on now that this dog had attached itself to us so we hid inside the lodge for a bit to see if she would lose interest and return from whence she came. But no, she waited outside for us and then followed us home where she lay outside our front door.

She was an incredibly nice dog, very well behaved and got along very well with the other dogs we met. But we are leaving in a couple days and we couldn’t take her back with us. So we chained her out front of Ms. Mary’s for the time being while we finished up our work for the day. She would have followed us onto other people’s farms and we weren’t sure how the owners or their dogs would react to her. She was very dejected looking. 
The afternoon, Ms. Mary asked us to help her trim and give her little dog Moshi a bath. Moshi is a bit of a mischief maker. The day before, while I was walking over to Ms. Mary’s to ask her a couple questions, I heard whining and yelping. Following the noise, I discovered Moshi had once again jumped into the 6 foot deep garbage pit and couldn’t get out. I tried to lower a plank into the hole for her to climb out on but she just kept slipping off. She looked so pathetic and scared. This called for the heavy artillery so I returned to the house and enlisted the help of Kaitlin and Tessa. Kaitlin bravely jumped into the pit, retrieved the poor terrified dog, and climbed out. (Her rain jacket still smells like junk.) Even though she hosed Moshi down after rescuing her from the pit, she has looked bedraggled ever since. This morning, Ms. Mary noticed a mat so large that it almost tied her back legs together. Enough was enough. Armed with a couple pairs of scissors and Tessa’s knowledge of dog restraining picked up at a vet clinic, we set to work freeing poor Moshi from her hairy restraints. We must have cut so many dreadlocks caked in mud from the dog’s tail, hind legs and under ears that the pile once we were done was almost as big as she is.
That's Kaitlin's hand in comparison.  Moshi was surprisingly good throughout the whole thing. She obviously wasn’t happy about what we were doing but she accepted it with reluctant grace. Having three people fawn and pet you while one snips off your hair apparently is not so bad.
After, it was time to give her a bath which she reacted to similarly. We had apparently only washed the first layer of dirt and grime off when we pulled her out. Ms. Mary figures she must have been in there all night. I would like to remark that our little duckling of a dog was with us through this debacle and calmly laid down to wait for us to finish, all fancy like.
 She really is a very pretty dog. 
After retrieving the last of our data from the Stucky Farm (the farm next to this one), we prepared for our final Burger Night at La Colina. This time we had one extra with us: the dog. (We didn’t give her a name because we didn’t want to end up being attached to her.) We took her with us in the hopes that her owners would be there or she would attach herself to someone else. (I would have kept her if I could. She’s pretty awesome.) After a great meal of burger and churro-esqe round things of goodness (again I had way too many) and some hola hooping, we set out in the dark to return to our abode. We were happy to discover that the dog had attached herself to a nice family from Texas that had just moved down to Monteverde and had, we assumed, gone home with them. 
Thus it was that we were walking in the pitch dark, our path illuminated only by my flashlight and phone. (I was the only one to remember lights.) And from the distance we saw a form. Pale white. Too far and too dark out to clearly see anything. Of course the rational thing to assume was that it was a ghost. Thoroughly freaked out, our lights racing  around as if from the Blair Witch Project, we continued forward. Suddenly, I felt something move in my hair. Letting out a very girlish scream causing Tessa to in her turn scream as well, I whipped around to discover what it was: Kaitlin’s hand. The jerk! She had reached around my shoulders and pulled on my hair. After settling down, we look forward to realize that the shape, what had sort of resembled a cow, had disappeared. A car slowly passed by shedding light onto the road ahead. Kaitlin began to chase after it. Her idea was to follow the car and its lights to what ever it was that we saw. We ran after her, flashlights dancing. Just barely glimpsing the form as it ran around the bend we found that our ghost was in fact a white horse. A ghost horse I’m convinced since once we round the bend, we never saw it again. 

Today was our iButton collection day where we brought in all of the gear we had deployed. So up to Curi Canch we went, all together this time, our last time. Kaitlin, Tessa and I have been working together so long that all the retrievals went like clock work. Hiking up to the humming bird garden to visit our final bivy, karma struck back against Kaitlin for her scaring me the night before. 
“What is in my pocket? What is in my...GRAHH!” Kaitlin whipped her hand out of her pocket. Her reaction to me looked like mine would have been in I found a large spider in there. But no, Kaitlin reached in and pulled out...a banana. Kaitlin laughs at Tessa for having nightmares about army ants in her bed (which she’s adjusted to now) and Kaitlin freaks out about a banana. This wasn’t any banana. Oh no. this was one she had found in the cow pasture, presumably dropped when Tessa went and fetched bananas for this morning’s breakfast. Apparently this banana had been cut down the side which is exactly where Kaitlin had stuck her fingers when she reached into her pocket. The slimy moist feeling was what caused her reaction.
We all had a good time laughing. And thus, we left Curi Canch for the last time though not before thanking Mauricimo, the manager, and presenting him with some thumbprint cookies (more about these later). He graciously welcomed us back (for free) anytime we were in Monteverde with our families.
So this afternoon, we packed up all of our field equipment to take to Frank Joyce’s tomorrow. Now I sit here typing this as the smell of warm cookies floats through the house. After testing the recipe yesterday and figuring out the exactly spot in the over where the cookies don’t crack or spiderweb, I’m making more to take to the other land owners who let us tramp around on their property for the past six weeks. This research would have been really hard to do without their welcoming us to look on their land. These cookies are not chocolate chip as I made before, these are thumbprint cookies made with the remains of Bennie’s home made passionfruit jam and orange marmalade. They are really good cold we discovered this morning. (Nobody judge. We are running a little scarce on the breakfast food and you would eat them too if they were sitting in the fridge looking oh so tempting.)
 And now that we have emptied the jars, we have enough jars for each of us to take back some of Ms. Mary’s home made peanut butter which is ridiculously good!

Research Update

Research Update

“Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.” 
― Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth

This quote nearly perfectly describes my past weeks of research. Substituting problems for mistakes would more appropriately describe my research,  but, the step-by-step nature of learning is entirely accurate. My research focuses on expanding a previously published limited study, and modeling charge generated strain in any carbon electrode present in any ionic liquid electrolyte. Reproducing the previous work is a necessary baseline to ensure all subsequent results accurately deviate, solely due the the variable difference, and not other factors. Replicating the aforementioned study has been far more complex than initially anticipated, as many problems arose. Solving each of those problems one by one has ultimately lead to similar results as the prior study. Each week the IMN's energy materials group meets, and presents their current research . Below are some powerpoint slides I prepared for the meeting, which outline all of the problems/solutions I have come across in my research quest. 

Initially, an insufficient amount of  ionic liquid electrolyte
infiltrated into the device. This was solved by increasing
the number of syringe evacuation/injection cycles. 

The dilatometer contains a porous T-shaped frit to act as a separator
in-between the working and counter electrodes, and allow electrolyte
 to flow between them. Carbon particles were getting inside the frit
thereby contaminating it. I went through a series of mini experiments,
using various spacers, trying to reproduce the prior study (which
had not used a spacer). 

Unfortunately, introducing the separator hindered the performance as
you can see in this cyclic voltammetry curve.  In experiments,
I am just going to cycle in new glass frits to prevent this problem. 
Another problem that persisted throughout the prior experiments,
is faulty sealing of the dilatometer. Frequently, when a syringe was used to
evacuate the cell, and inject electrolyte, there would be air leakage. This was
discovered to be a result of poor sealing between the dilatometer housing
and the tubing. 

Another problem involved the spacing between this membrane disk and a spacing disk
in the dilatometer. The spacing disk was too thin, preventing good electrical
contact between it and the membrane, yielding CV as seen above.  This was solved by
introducing a additional gold membrane disk to allow proper contact. 

And after solving all of these problems the results finally are similar to
the prior study's data! Now that a proper baseline has been obtained,
I can begin varying the ionic liquid electrolyte to see if it performs
as expected.  

 In addition to all of this lab work, I have been seeing a lot of different cities on weekends. I will upload another blog containing pictures and descriptions shortly.