Electronics

Flexible supercapacitor process brings phones that charge in seconds a step closer

Flexible supercapacitor proces...
Using 2D materials wrapped around 1D nanowires, researchers at the University of Central Florida have created a supercapcitor that can be charged in seconds, and can go on to be recharged more than 30,000 times with no ill effects
Using 2D materials wrapped around 1D nanowires, researchers at the University of Central Florida have created a supercapcitor that can be charged in seconds, and can go on to be recharged more than 30,000 times with no ill effects
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Using 2D materials wrapped around 1D nanowires, researchers at the University of Central Florida have created a supercapcitor that can be charged in seconds, and can go on to be recharged more than 30,000 times with no ill effects
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Using 2D materials wrapped around 1D nanowires, researchers at the University of Central Florida have created a supercapcitor that can be charged in seconds, and can go on to be recharged more than 30,000 times with no ill effects

Researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have devised a technique for creating flexible supercapacitors that not only store more energy than comparable devices, but can also be fully-charged in seconds and continue to be recharged more than 30,000 times without affecting performance or capacity.

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

Working in the NanoScience Technology Center at UCF (and building on previous work in supercapcitor nanowire technology), the researchers realized their breakthrough by experimenting with the application of newly-discovered 2D materials known as transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) only a few atoms thick to coat 1D nanowires.

Made primarily of layers of tungsten disulfide and tungsten trisulfide deposited using sequential oxidation/sulfurization (alternate layers produced by chemical reactions of oxygen and sulfur), these TMDs coat large "forests" of nanowires to effectively produce a compact array of many individual supercapacitors merged to make a cohesive unit with a large surface area.

According to the UCF researchers, other scientists have previously tried to achieve a similar effect using graphene and other two-dimensional materials, but their success was limited.

"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 UCF assistant professor Yeonwoong (Eric) Jung. "We developed a simple chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing materials with the two-dimensional materials."

At 30,000 charge/discharge cycles, the new UCF device is many times more efficient than similar flexible prototypes, such as Case Western's graphene/carbon nanotube version, and makes a typical Lithium-ion battery's mere 1,500 charge/discharge cycle look feeble in comparison. And, with mere seconds to reach full charge, it could leave other portable power technologies in its wake.

However, like many nascent technologies, the UCF flexible supercapacitor has not yet been developed sufficiently for release to market.

"It's not ready for commercialization," said associate professor Jung. "But this is a proof-of-concept demonstration, and our studies show there are very high impacts for many technologies."

If this technology can eventually be brought to market, or at least lead to a commercial device, it could help bring about superfast-charging cellphones and electric vehicles, as well as high-powered wearables with its flexible design that could be woven into garments or molded around devices.

The result of this research were recently published in the journal ACS Nano.

Source: UCF

13 comments
VincentWolf
Imagine how fast and quick electric cars could be with these supercapicitors--they would have to outlaw them because cops could never catch them--even with a plane!
zr2s10
What about actual kW-hr capacity per mass? He says you wouldn't have to recharge your phone for a week, which would be more important to me than a fast recharge, but I think they need more specifics on this. But if you could run for a week off of a super-capacitor the size of a normal cell battery, this is potentially world changing. Electric cars would surely become mainstream with this type of storage system, although feeding it would now be a restriction, you can only pump so much juice through a line. I imagine it would have to be pulsed instead of a steady feed.
EcoLogical
zr2s10: 'Energy Density' is normally expressed as Wh/kg (Watt-hours/kilogram) ... the Panasonic 18650 cells in the Tesla Model S are about 250 Wh/kg and (according to JB Straubel, Tesla CTO) the new 2170 cells for the Tesla Model ≡ are 30% higher ... ~ 325 Wh/kg.
Bob Flint
Can we get some details, capacitors deliver power for a very short burst, even if they can be recharged 30,000 times. Imagine within a second, and recharged just as fast, that gives them a life span of 8.3 hours continuous use, maybe a couple of days if they aren't flexed so vigorously.
zr2s10
EcoLogical, thank you, I wasn't sure what they used. So yes, Wh/kg would be useful information for this device. I'll have to check and see if it's listed anywhere else.
fb36
@Bob Flint: I am pretty sure discharge speed of any capacitor can be slowed as much as needed by using special control circuitry (hint: electricity vs water analogy).
BrandonVirgin
I could not find the Wh/kg stat. However, the UCF website (UCFtoday) quotes Nitin Choudhary, the postdoctoral associate who conducted much of the research, as saying “For small electronic devices, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability,”
physics314
A but of math: A 1Wh battery/capacitor, charged in 1s, requires a 3.6kW charger. At 10V, it also requires 360A.
CarrieErbagSmith
As a disabled person whose only form of transport is a mobility scooter, one of my frustrations is the 8 hours it takes to charge it. This would be life-changing for me - but how will the cost, size and weight compare to conventional batteries?
AdamHoward
I wonder if this is the same young South Asian woman who received a youth science award? a year or two ago, for her breakthrough with a fast charging flexible mini superconducting battery. Surely. A truly remarkable young woman who has positively changed our world. What greater gift worthy of recognition than that of putting such power into peoples hands, the possibly most possibility facilitating phenomena beyond paradigm.