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Phones Could Now Be Charged In Seconds And Last All Week

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Scientists have created a supercapacitor that can be recharged 30,000 times without degrading

Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have created a supercapacitor that can be charged in seconds and not require recharge for at least a week.

The flexible supercapacitors can store more energy than traditional supercapacitors and can be recharged more than 30,000 times without degrading.

Replacing batteries

It is hoped that the development by UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center could replace batteries and revolutionise technology as varied as mobile phones and electric cars.

Anyone with a smartphone knows the problem; after 18 months or so, it holds a charge for less and less time as the battery begins to degrade.

UCF scientists have been investigating how nanomaterials could be used to improve supercapacitors that could enhance or even replace batteries in electronic devices. Generally, a supercapacitor that holds as much energy as a lithium-ion battery would have to be far larger.

Principal investigator Yeonwoong Jung is an assistant professor with joint appointments to the NanoScience Technology Center and the Materials Science & Engineering Department.

His team has developed supercapacitors composed of millions of nanometer-thick wires coated with shells of two-dimensional materials. A highly conductive core facilitates fast electron transfer for fast charging and discharging, and uniformly coated shells of two-dimensional materials yield high energy and power densities.

Smartphone battery © Fabio Berti Shutterstock 2012It  was already understood that two-dimensional materials held great promise for energy storage applications. Until the UCF-developed process for integrating those materials, though, there was no way to realise that potential, according to Jung.

Nitin Choudhary, a postdoctoral associate who conducted much of the research, added: “For small electronic devices, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability.”

Cyclic stability defines how many times it can be charged, drained and recharged before beginning to degrade. For example, a lithium-ion battery can be recharged fewer than 1,500 times without significant failure.

By comparison, the new process created at UCF yields a supercapacitor that does not degrade even after it has been recharged 30,000 times.

Supercapacitors that use the new materials could be used in smartphones and other electronic gadgets, as well as electric vehicles that could benefit from sudden bursts of power and speed. The supercapacitors’ flexibility means they could also significantly advance wearable tech.

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