Flexible supercap can be charged 30,000 times

Flexible supercap can be charged 30,000 times

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The method from the UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center could eventually revolutionize technology as varied as electric vehicles and mobile phones. Scientists have been studying the use of nanomaterials to improve supercapacitors that could enhance or even replace batteries in electronic devices. The problem with supercapacitors capable of holding an amount of energy comparable to a drive battery would be much larger.

The team at UCF has experimented with applying newly discovered two-dimensional materials only a few atoms thick to supercapacitors. Other researchers have also tried formulations with graphene and other two-dimensional materials, but with limited success.

“There have been problems in the way people incorporate these two-dimensional materials into the existing systems — that’s been a bottleneck in the field.” said principal investigator Yeonwoong Jung, an assistant professor with joint appointments to the NanoScience Technology Center and the Materials Science & Engineering Department. ”We developed a simple chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing materials with the two-dimensional materials,”

Jung’s team has developed supercapacitors composed of millions of nanometer-thin wires coated with shells of two-dimensional materials. A highly conductive core facilitates fast electron transfer for fast charging and discharging. And uniformly coated shells of two-dimensional materials yield high energy and power densities.

Scientists already knew two-dimensional materials held great promise for energy storage applications. But until the UCF-developed process for integrating those materials, there was no way to realize that potential, Jung said. For small electronic devices, these materials are already surpassing conventional ones in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability.

Cyclic stability defines how many times it can be charged, drained and recharged before beginning to degrade. For example, a lithium-ion battery can be recharged fewer than 1,500 times without significant failure. Recent formulations of supercapacitors with two-dimensional materials can be recharged a few thousand times.

By comparison, the new process created at UCF yields a supercapacitor that doesn’t degrade even after it’s been recharged 30,000 times.

Supercapacitors that use the new materials could be used in phones and other electronic gadgets, and electric vehicles that could benefit from sudden bursts of power and speed. And because they’re flexible, it could mean a significant advancement in wearable tech, as well.

The technology is however only in the proof-of-concept phase; commercialization is still years away. Jung is now working with UCF’s Office of Technology Transfer to patent the new process. According to the research group, the achievement has a high potential impact for many technologies.

In addition to Jung, the research team included Nitin Choudhary, Chao Li, Julian Moore and Associate Professor Jayan Thomas, all of the UCF NanoScience Technology Center; and Hee-Suk Chung of Korea Basic Science Institute in Jeonju, South Korea.

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