Super Cap or Battery?

April 7, 2015 | 00:06
Super Cap or Battery?
Super Cap or Battery?

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 can be charged in seconds and are generally good for around 1 million recharge cycles but unlike batteries they don’t store enough power to run 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 study, led by Richard Kaner, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and materials science and engineering, and Maher El-Kady, a postdoctoral scholar, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to El-Kady “The microsupercapacitor is a new evolving configuration, a very small rechargeable power source with a much higher capacity than previous lithium thin-film microbatteries”.

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” necessary for the production of today’s supercapacitors. The research was supported by Nanotech Energy.

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