International research team develops ultrahigh-power energy storage devices

A team of researchers from the U.S. and France report the development of a micro-supercapacitor with remarkable properties. The paper will be published in the premier scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology online on August 15.

These micro-supercapacitors have the potential to power nomad electronics, wireless sensor networks, biomedical implants, active radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags and embedded microsensors, among other devices.

Supercapacitors, also called electric double layer capacitors (EDLCs) or ultracapacitors, bridge the gap between batteries, which offer high energy densities but are slow, and “conventional” electrolytic capacitors, which are fast but have low energy densities.

The newly developed devices described in Nature Nanotechnology have powers per volume that are comparable to electrolytic capacitors, capacitances that are four orders of magnitude higher, and energies per volume that are an order of magnitude higher. They were also found to be three orders of magnitude faster than conventional supercapacitors, which are used in backup power supplies, wind power generators and other machinery. These new devices have been dubbed “micro-supercapacitors” because they are only a few micrometers (0.000001 meters) thick.

What makes this possible? “Supercapacitors store energy in layers of ions at high surface area electrodes,” said Dr. Yury Gogotsi, Trustee Chair Professor of materials science and engineering at Drexel University, and a co-author of the paper. “The higher the surface area per volume of the electrode material, the better the performance of the supercapacitor.”

Vadym Mochalin, research assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Drexel and co-author, said, “We use electrodes made of onion-like carbon, a material in which each individual particle is made up of concentric spheres of , similar to the layers of an onion. Each particle is 6-7 nanometers in diameter.”

This is the first time a material with very small spherical particles has been studied for this purpose. Previously investigated materials include activated carbon, nanotubes, and carbide-derived carbon (CDC).

“The surface of the onion-like carbons is fully accessible to ions, whereas with some other materials, the size or shape of the pores or of the particles themselves would slow down the charging or discharging process,” Mochalin said. “Furthermore, we used a process to assemble the devices that did not require a polymer binder material to hold the electrodes together, which further improved the electrode conductivity and the charge/discharge rate. Therefore, our supercapacitors can deliver power in milliseconds, much faster than any battery or used today.”

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Provided by Drexel University
Citation: International research team develops ultrahigh-power energy storage devices (2010, August 17) retrieved 17 October 2019 from
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User comments

Aug 17, 2010
nice! now how many decades until i can get one?

Aug 17, 2010
Sorry degojoey, Opera changed my 5 vote for you to a 1 and of course I can't undo it. I've been reading stuff on here for years that never made it to market. WTF?

Aug 17, 2010
your rigged system wants to control you, of course things like this won't hit the market, if you get this you can defend yourselves with homemade railguns that actually work.

Aug 17, 2010
I've read the problem with most advanced battery concepts is production and durability. This article says nothing about how to produce such a battery or efficiency loss vs number of recharge cycles. Probably that's the next thing they investigate. But don't diminish their good results. It's still an achievement and nothing indicates production and durability will be more problematic than with other solutions.

Aug 17, 2010
the problem with your postulation, stealthc, is that the home market of amateur engineers and inventors has gotten large enough and continues at a fast enough rate that developments are going to happen whether governments or corporations want them to.

Aug 18, 2010
well until universal electronics factories steps in and let you send your blueprint that uses these superconduktors and have them manufatured in numbers you want to fund. And those universal tech factories are growing really fast and will have to compete with techonology they can provide for amateur (or semi amateur) engineers. Im hopefull and trust open source technology

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