A team of scientists from the University of Waterloo (Canada) has designed a novel system that improves supercapacitors significantly. Thanks to this advance we are one step closer to charging the cell phone battery in seconds.
The autonomy of smartphones has become one of the main concerns of mobile phone users. To respond to the needs of the users, the industry works hard to optimize the batteries and offer fast charging systems that recover energy in less time.
To accelerate the charging process, some researchers have focused on the development of supercapacitors, which is an electrochemical device that has interesting characteristics: high energy density, high efficiency, long operating cycles or wide ranges of temperature and voltage. Today they are mainly used to power microelectronic systems, computer memories, hybrid cars, precision cameras or watches.
For these reasons, supercapacitors are a promising alternative to conventional batteries, safer and faster. However, until now its use is quite limited because its storage capacity is quite low.
Now, the innovative design that this team has developed doubles the amount of energy that supercapacitors can store. This is possible through the use of graphene and an oily liquid salt coating on the component electrodes.
The liquid salt works as a separator of the graphene sheets, which prevents them from stacking to increase the exposed surface. In addition, it also allows reducing the size and weight of the supercapacitor.
The increased storage capacity of these components paves the way for them to be small and light enough to replace conventional batteries, which in the future will allow us to charge the mobile phone in a matter of seconds.
Michael Pope, director of the research, points out that in the short term the improved supercapacitors could displace the lead-acid batteries of traditional cars. Later they have the potential to power consumer electronic devices or electric vehicles, among other devices. “If they are marketed in the right way for the right applications, we will begin to see them more and more frequently in our daily lives.”