Researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have successfully combined two nanomaterials to create a new energy storage medium that combines the best qualities of batteries and supercapacitors.
Supercapacitors are electrochemical components that can charge in seconds rather than hours and can be used for 1 million recharge cycles. Unlike batteries, however, they do not store enough power to run our computers and smartphones.
The new hybrid supercapacitor stores large amounts of energy, recharges quickly and can last for more than 10,000 recharge cycles. The CNSI scientists also created a microsupercapacitor that is small enough to fit in wearable or implantable devices. Just one-fifth the thickness of a sheet of paper, it is capable of holding more than twice as much charge as a typical thin-film lithium battery.
The new hybrid supercapacitor developed at UCLA stores large amounts of energy, recharges quickly and can last for more than 10,000 recharge cycles.
Batteries run just about everything portable in our lives such as smartphones, tablets, computers, etc. Although we have become accustomed to the rapid improvement of portable electronics, the slow development of batteries is holding back technological progress. Thus, it is imperative to develop new energy storage devices that are compact, reliable, and energy dense, charge quickly, and possess both long cycle life and calendar life. Researchers have developed hybrid supercapacitors that can store as much charge as a lead acid battery, yet they can be recharged in seconds compared with hours for conventional batteries.
Abstract – Engineering three-dimensional hybrid supercapacitors and microsupercapacitors for high-performance integrated energy storage
Supercapacitors now play an important role in the progress of hybrid and electric vehicles, consumer electronics, and military and space applications. There is a growing demand in developing hybrid supercapacitor systems to overcome the energy density limitations of the current generation of carbon-based supercapacitors. Here, we demonstrate 3D high-performance hybrid supercapacitors and microsupercapacitors based on graphene and MnO2 by rationally designing the electrode microstructure and combining active materials with electrolytes that operate at high voltages. This results in hybrid electrodes with ultrahigh volumetric capacitance of over 1,100 F/cm3. This corresponds to a specific capacitance of the constituent MnO2 of 1,145 F/g, which is close to the theoretical value of 1,380 F/g. The energy density of the full device varies between 22 and 42 Wh/l depending on the device configuration, which is superior to those of commercially available double-layer supercapacitors, pseudocapacitors, lithium-ion capacitors, and hybrid supercapacitors tested under the same conditions and is comparable to that of lead acid batteries. These hybrid supercapacitors use aqueous electrolytes and are assembled in air without the need for expensive “dry rooms” required for building today’s supercapacitors. Furthermore, we demonstrate a simple technique for the fabrication of supercapacitor arrays for high-voltage applications. These arrays can be integrated with solar cells for efficient energy harvesting and storage systems.
“The microsupercapacitor is a new evolving configuration, a very small rechargeable power source with a much higher capacity than previous lithium thin-film microbatteries,” El-Kady said.
The new components combine laser-scribed graphene, or LSG — a material that can hold an electrical charge, is very conductive, and charges and recharges very quickly — with manganese dioxide, which is currently used in alkaline batteries because it holds a lot of charge and is cheap and plentiful. They can be fabricated without the need for extreme temperatures or the expensive “dry rooms” required to produce today’s supercapacitors.
“Let’s say you wanted to put a small amount of electrical current into an adhesive bandage for drug release or healing assistance technology,” Kaner said. “The microsupercapacitor is so thin you could put it inside the bandage to supply the current. You could also recharge it quickly and use it for a very long time.”
The researchers found that the supercapacitor could quickly store electrical charge generated by a solar cell during the day, hold the charge until evening and then power an LED overnight, showing promise for off-grid street lighting.
“The LSG–manganese-dioxide capacitors can store as much electrical charge as a lead acid battery, yet can be recharged in seconds, and they store about six times the capacity of state-of-the-art commercially available supercapacitors,” Kaner said. “This scalable approach for fabricating compact, reliable, energy-dense supercapacitors shows a great deal of promise in real-world applications, and we’re very excited about the possibilities for greatly improving personal electronics technology in the near future.”
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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