“This new technology makes for an energy storage device that stores nearly as much energy as in a battery but which can be recharged in seconds or minutes, We believe that this is truly a breakthrough in energy technology.” -Bor Jang, Nanotek Instruments
With the sensational array of technology at our fingertips, we’re still at the mercy of our battery capacity. We’ve already seen phone batteries you can charge by shaking, but there’s a concept in the works that will give you all the energy you could ever need in just seconds or minutes of charging, a potential Earth shattering development.
Batteries vs. Capacitors
The best batteries commercially available today can hold a charge for a decent while, hours or days, but they take a considerable time to get that charge. This is due to their high energy density but low power density. The best capacitors we have today are able to charge up pretty quickly, but lose that charge in seconds or minutes. This is due to their high power density but lower energy density.
Teams of scientists are making incredible ground on a power source that combines the positives of both batteries and capacitors. These supercapacitors, comprised of graphene, are rewriting the book on gadget power.
Graphene’s amazing abilities as a supercapacitor were first discovered in 2006 and research in this field has been ongoing ever since. UCLA professor of chemistry & materials science and engineering Ric Kaner has elaborated on this initial idea and is trying to make it’s potential a reality.
Kaner’s discovery came while attempting to quickly and efficiently create graphene. By putting graphite oxide films onto a DVD and running an optical laser on top (one found in a typical CPU), graphene was formed. This was a feat in itself until Kaner hooked up a light bulb to the substance and noticed that it powered itself for a number of minutes. These ultra thin graphene sheets are the magic material scientists have been looking for, containing both a high energy density and high power density.
Here’s a video of Kaner’s story as an entry into the GE Forward Focus Idea competition.
“Our study demonstrates that our new graphene-based supercapacitors store as much charge as conventional batteries, but can be charged and discharged a hundred to a thousand times faster,” said Kaner.
As if that wasn’t enough, the electrochemical attributes under high mechanical stress hold promise for high power, flexible electronics, just as predicted. This disruptive idea has far reaching potential for our everyday gadgets, and down the road could help power our cars and homes.
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