The very advantage of a battery pertains to its high energy density – which entails its capacity to store a high magnitude of energy within a lower volume (tiny package). This property makes them feasible enough to be used in electronic products instead of supercapacitors that do not possess enough energy capacity. However, on the other hand, the battery’s disadvantage lies in its inability to charge or discharge in a rapid manner, as opposed to namesake supercapacitors. But what if there was a single device that could combine the charge-oriented benefits of both? Well, researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have initiated the right step in this incredible direction, with their advanced hybrid supercapacitor that is touted to have a high performance quotient. When translated to figures, the newly devised contraption is touted to have a durability that lasts 10,000 recharge cycles, while having the capacity to store six times more energy than conventional supercapacitors.
In case you are wondering, the new components used for the hybrid supercapacitor include laser-scribed graphene, or LSG – a material tailored to high conductivity, porosity and greater surface area. It is combined with manganese dioxide (for electrodes) – a cheaply available material with high energy storing capacity, which is already used for regular alkaline batteries. The numbers derived from this combination allude to energy densities of up to 42 Wh/l, which is six times more than carbon-based supercapacitors. The power density on the other hand accounts for 10 kW/l, which is 100 times more than lead acid batteries and also 2 times more than a thin-film lithium battery.
Even in terms of practical usage, the contrived hybrid supercapacitor showed its ‘evolved’ pattern of application, by being embedded inside a solar array cell. This usage scope goes against the notion of conventionality where supercapacitors are stacked atop each other to result in a singular unit. But in this case, the device was found to store the solar energy at a higher rate (during day time), while it also held on to the charge for further usage in an LED fixture during night time. As professor Richard Kaner, one of the leaders of the project made it clear –
The LSG–manganese-dioxide capacitors can store as much electrical charge as a lead acid battery, yet can be recharged in seconds, and they store about six times the capacity of state-of-the-art commercially available supercapacitors. This scalable approach for fabricating compact, reliable, energy-dense supercapacitors shows a great deal of promise in real-world applications, and we’re very excited about the possibilities for greatly improving personal electronics technology in the near future.
And, the good news is – the scientists are now looking forth to use the electrodes for developing the hybrid supercapacitor for a mass, commercial market.
The study in question was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.