A group of scientists at the University of Central Florida have created a supercapacitor prototype as a proof-of-concept that works as a battery, but has 20 times the capacity and can be recharged in seconds. Supercapacitors can be charged more quickly than chemical batteries because they store energy statically on the surface, instead of using chemical reactions, the way batteries like lithium-ion, lead-acid, nickel-metal hydride and others do.
“You could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week”
The supercapacitor can be recharged more than 30,000 times with no discernible degradation of its capacity. A current lithium-ion battery only lasts 500-2000 full cycles before needing to be replaced. “You could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,” according to UCF postdoctoral associate Nitin Choudhary.
The technology uses two-dimensional material sheets with large surface area that can hold a lot of electrons. Graphene has been used for this purpose, but it’s difficult to integrate graphene with other materials used in super capacitors. Yeonwoong “Eric” Jung wrapped 2D metal materials just a few atoms thick around highly conductive 1D nanowire, which allow electrons to pass quickly from the core to the shell. This allows fast charging and very high energy density that is relatively simple to produce. “We developed a simple chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing materials with the two-dimensional materials,” Jung says.
The team admits that this technology is new and not ready for public consumption. They’re currently seeking a patent for the process. Time alone will tell if this is a viable solution, but it’s certainly an exciting idea. It’s another possible future solution like Stanford’s aluminum-ion battery.