Scientists from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have created a supercapacitor battery prototype that works like new even after being recharged 30,000 times. The research could yield high-capacity, ultra-fast-charging batteries that last over 20 times longer than a conventional lithium-ion cell. "You could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn't need to charge it again for over a week," says UCF postdoctoral associate Nitin Choudhary.
Supercapacitors can be charged quickly because they store electricity statically on the surface of a material, rather than using chemical reactions like batteries. That requires "two-dimensional" material sheets with large surface areas that can hold lots of electrons. However, much of the research, including that by EV-maker Henrik Fisker and UCLA, uses graphene as the two-dimensional material.
Yeonwoong "Eric" Jung from UCF says it's a challenge to integrate graphene with other materials used in supercapacitors, though. That's why his team wrapped 2D metal materials (TMDs) just a few atoms thick around highly-conductive 1D nanowires, letting electrons pass quickly from the core to the shell. That yielded a fast charging material with high energy and power density that's 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.