Advances in supercapacitors

Article By : Maria Guerra

As the demand for better battery life for electronic devices grows so is the quest to find innovated alternative commercially viable energy sources.

As we all know supercapacitors are distinguished by high charge and discharge rates and a higher energy storage capacity per unit mass or volume as compared to a battery. They can be charged and discharged very fast (within a few seconds to milliseconds) and several times (usually more than 100000 cycles) without significant capacitance loss.

Therefore, where high power is required, a supercapacitor could be advantageous. For example, some power electronic designs currently include them successfully in short-term power applications where intermittent energy with variable power demands, and/or long cycling stability are required (e.g. voltage stabilization in start/stop systems, regenerative braking systems).

But supercapacitors can also offer great potential to enable power devices to run for longer without charging. Here are some of the latest developments that are paving the way for the commercial adoption of superconductors:

1. Carbon nanowalls: Scientists from Skoltech, Moscow State University (MSU) and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) have proposed a new approach to replacing carbon atoms with Nitrogen atoms in the supercapacitor’s crystal lattice and developed a novel capacity enhancement method based on Carbon lattice modification with the aid of plasma.

The researchers performed the experiments using Carbon Nanowalls (CNWs) which are known for high specific surface area and can be used as active materials to produce electrochemical energy sources. The CNWs (Figure 1) were made of vertically oriented Graphene sheets, in which they replaced some of the Carbon with Nitrogen (Nitrogen is involved in redox reactions, which leads to an additional increase in capacity) using Carbon structure treatment by plasma. Their findings can help create the next generation of power sources for portable electronics.

Figure 1 SEM image of CNW film. Top right inset shows Raman spectra of raw CNWs and CNWs after plasma modification in DC glow-discharge. D, G and 2D bands are indicated. (Courtesy of Nature)

[Continue reading on EDN US: Results of electrochemical studies]

Maria Guerra is an electrical engineer and freelance technology writer.

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