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Polymer Scientific Breakthrough Could Yield Supercharged Supercapacitors

As News Editor of Silicon UK, Roland keeps a keen eye on the daily tech news coverage for the site, while also focusing on stories around cyber security, public sector IT, innovation, AI, and gadgets.

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Researchers have designed an organic material polymer that can make supercapacitors 10,000 times more powerful

High capacity supercapacitors could offer a longer-lasting alternative to power storage than batteries, thanks to a scientific breakthrough from Bristol and Surrey universities and Augmented Optics.

Supercapacitors, effectively double layer capacitators that store static electrical energy using electrolytes and electrodes, and are generally better than standard chemical batteries at being charged and recharged.

However, they have a draw back in that they cannot hold as much charge at traditional batteries due to poor energy density per kilogramme; around one twentieth the capacity of existing battery technology.

Using polymers created out of materials based on large organic molecules composed of many repeated sub-units that have been bonded together to form a 3D network, researchers are claiming to have a supercapacitor that can provide 1,000 to 10,000 times more power than existing supercapacitors.

Super charging polymers

electric-double-layer-capacitorThe breakthrough and the ability for supercapacitors to be charged very quickly is being championed as a means to enable electric cars to rapidly charge rather than require charging cycles that last between six and eight hours, instead charging in around the same time it takes to fill a normal car up with petrol.

Furthermore, the technology has applications for all manner of uses from aerospace and energy generation to biosensors and mobile phones.

“While this research has potentially opened the route to very high density supercapacitors, these polymers have many other possible uses in which tough, flexible conducting materials are desirable, including bioelectronics, sensors, wearable electronics, and advanced optics,” said Dr Ian Hamerton, reader in polymers and composite materials from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Bristol.

“We believe that this is an extremely exciting and potentially game changing development.”

The battle for battery life is very much a real tech struggle with smartphone makers looking to eek more power out of their lithium ion batteries and Opera looking to give laptops more electrical juice for mobile working.

And with the potential rise of electrical driverless cars, the need for long-lasting powerful batteries is not likely to go away any time soon.

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