Engineers craft new material for high-performing 'supercapacitors'

Apr 15, 2013
Illustration of form of nobium oxide synthesized by UCLA researchers. Credit: UCLA/Nature Materials

Taking a significant step toward improving the power delivery of systems ranging from urban electrical grids to regenerative braking in hybrid vehicles, researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have synthesized a material that shows high capability for both the rapid storage and release of energy.

In a paper published April 14 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Materials, a team led by professor of Bruce Dunn defines the characteristics of a synthesized form of niobium oxide—a compound based on an element used in stainless steel—with a great facility for . The material would be used in a "," a device that combines the high storage capacity of lithium ion batteries and the rapid energy-delivery ability of common capacitors.

UCLA researchers said the development could lead to extremely rapid charging of devices, ranging in applications from mobile electronics to industrial equipment. For example, supercapacitors are currently used in energy-capture systems that help power loading cranes at ports, reducing the use of such as diesel.

"With this work, we are blurring the lines between what is a battery and what is a supercapacitor," said Veronica Augustyn, a graduate student in materials science at UCLA and lead author of the paper. "The discovery takes the disadvantages of capacitors and the disadvantages of batteries and does away with them."

Batteries effectively store energy but do not deliver power efficiently because the charged carriers, or ions, move slowly through the solid battery material. Capacitors, which store energy at the surface of a material, generally have low .

Researchers on Dunn's team synthesized a type of niobium oxide that demonstrates substantial storage capacity through "intercalation pseudocapacitance," in which ions are deposited into the bulk of the niobium oxide in the same way grains of sand can be deposited between pebbles.

As a result, electrodes as much as 40 microns thick—about the same width as many commercial battery components—can quickly store and deliver energy on the same time scales as electrodes more than 100 times thinner.

Dunn emphasizes that although the electrodes are an important first step, "further engineering at the nanoscale and beyond will be necessary to achieve practical devices with high energy density that can charge in under a minute."

Explore further: New 'designer carbon' boosts battery performance

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New 'designer carbon' boosts battery performance

23 hours ago

Stanford University scientists have created a new carbon material that significantly boosts the performance of energy-storage technologies. Their results are featured on the cover of the journal ACS Central Sc ...

Self-replicating nanostructures made from DNA

May 28, 2015

(Phys.org)—Is it possible to engineer self-replicating nanomaterials? It could be if we borrow nature's building blocks. DNA is a self-replicating molecule where its component parts, nucleotides, have specific ...

Could computers reach light speed?

May 28, 2015

Light waves trapped on a metal's surface travel nearly as fast as light through the air, and new research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory shows these waves, called surface plasmons, travel far enough ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

vacuum-mechanics
1 / 5 (7) Apr 16, 2013
Engineers craft new material for high-performing 'supercapacitors'
Taking a significant step toward improving the power delivery of systems …. researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have synthesized a material that shows high capability for both the rapid storage and release of energy.

This seems to be a great advance in capacitor technology, while there still has a problem in theoretical ream about the capacitor, i.e. according to the conventional concept of Poynting vector which say that the charging energy to store in a capacitor is not come from the flow-in electron current; instead it comes from the field energy around the capacitor…
http://www.vacuum...21〈=en
FastEddy
1 / 5 (6) Apr 16, 2013
Hopefully this development will not be overshadowed by the Carbon (Graphene) "super" capacitors on the lab benches in Beijing. Pointing out specific markets for Niobium Oxide "super" caps may garner some added grants in "alternate" energy production and storage, but it really implies limits in other arenas. Does this new capacitor technology require being part of a Lithium battery?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.