Scientists Work On Replacing Batteries With Supercapacitors

Posted: Nov 22 2016, 4:48am CST | by , Updated: Nov 22 2016, 4:50am CST, in Latest Science News


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Scientists Work on Replacing Batteries with Supercapacitors
Illustration represents the novel design of the supercapacitor developed at the University of Central Florida. Credit: University of Central Florida

The long hours that your smartphone takes to charge may soon become a thing of the past, as scientists have developed a new process to make electronic devices charge in seconds.

The researchers at University of Central Florida (UCF) in the US have developed a process to create flexible supercapacitors that have more energy storage capacity and can be recharged more than 30,000 times without beginning to degrade.

"If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn't need to charge it again for over a week," said Nitin Choudhary, a postdoctoral associate at UCF.

These supercapacitors that are still proof-of-concept could be used in phones and other electronic gadgets, and electric vehicles, said the study published in journal ACS Nano.


Anyone with a smartphone knows the problem. After 18 months or so, it holds a charge for less and less time as the battery begins to degrade.

Scientists have been studying the use of nanomaterials to improve supercapacitors that could enhance or even replace batteries in electronic devices. It is a stubborn problem, because a supercapacitor that held as much energy as a lithium-ion battery would have to be much, much larger.

So the team 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. We developed a simple chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing materials with the two-dimensional materials," said principal investigator Yeonwoong "Eric" Jung, Assistant Professor at UCF.

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, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability," Choudhary pointed out.

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. By comparison, the new process created by the researchers yields a supercapacitor that does not degrade even after it has been recharged 30,000 times.

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