Wafer-thin supercapacitor stays strong when bent out of shape
Scientists have developed a new type of supercapacitor with the kind of flexibility and durability needed to feature in footwear and clothing, along with other devices making up the Internet of Things. The advance stems from a novel manufacturing method that produces a wafer-thin energy storage device that can be bent and stretched out of shape, all the while maintaining its impressive performance.
Supercapacitors have some unique abilities when it comes to energy storage. Where today's batteries can store relatively large amounts of energy and release it over relatively long periods of time, they take a long time to charge up. Supercapacitors can't hold as much energy in their current form, but can be charged up far more quickly and release their energy in massive, short bursts.
This makes them an attractive proposition for certain applications, particularly if they can take on flexible, stretchable forms. Scientists working in this area at the University of Surrey and the Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel) in Brazil have now made a breakthrough, by using carbon nanomaterials as their starting point.
More specifically, the team took carbon nanotubes and arranged them atop a silicon-based polymer matrix, which was then coated in a material called polyaniline. This conducting polymer offers great energy storage abilities through a process known as pseudocapacitance, while also allowing for a high level of mechanical integrity.
So much so, the wafer-thin supercapacitor maintained 76 percent of its capacitance after 5,000 charging cycles, and 80 percent of its electrochemical properties at various bending angles. What's more, the team's novel fabricating method is said to be cheaper and less time-consuming than standard methods.
“Supercapacitors are key to ensuring that 5G and 6G technologies reach their full potential," said study author Professor Ravi Silva. "While supercapacitors can certainly boost the lifespan of wearable consumer technologies, they have the potential to be revolutionary when you think about their role in autonomous vehicles and AI-assisted smart sensors that could help us all conserve energy. This is why it’s important that we create a low cost and environmentally friendly way to produce this incredibly promising energy storage technology. The future is certainly bright for supercapacitors.”
The research was published in the journal Nanoscale.
Source: University of Surrey