In the case of storing energy in electronic devices, one typically resorts to using either a battery, through which energy is stored in chemicals, or a capacitor, through which the energy is stored in an electrical field. The advantage of batteries is they have a tendency to have a high energy storage capability — nonetheless, they could be each slow to charge and lose their ability to carry charge over time. Capacitors don’t have these limitations, but store considerably less energy by volume and aren’t suited to providing a gentle supply of energy over time like batteries.
A compromise between batteries and capacitors is available in the shape of a supercapacitor.
Like a hybrid of the 2, supercapacitors feature two electrodes (as in batteries) that store charge on their surfaces (like a capacitor).
Nevertheless, these conductive surfaces are separated with an electrolyte, somewhat than the non-conducting, dielectric materials present in regular capacitors.
Supercapacitors are in a position to store significantly more charge than normal capacitors for probably the most part because they’ve nano-patterned electrodes that give them a much larger surface area on which to store energy — but they still don’t quite reach the extent of batteries.
Researchers trying to boost the energy story density of supercapacitors have typically done so by including so-called pseudocapacitive components.
These allow additional electric charge to be stored in a cloth via electrochemical reactions occurring on the surface of the electrodes.
Of their study, materials scientists Professor Kirk Bevan of Canada’s McGill University, Dr Chris Howard of University College London and their colleagues have theoretically demonstrated the potential of 1 such approach for incorporating pseudocapacitive components.
Generally known as quantised capacitance, this mechanism involving electron–electron interactions in nanoparticles has been experimentally demonstrated before, but never applied to energy storage.
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Furthermore, the researchers explained, their pseudocapacitive battery, if realised, could find myriad applications from energy storage for the national grid to hand-held electric devices.
Prof. Bevan said: “The physical principles don’t have any size limitations and might be utilised each at grid scale and small scale.”
The tech may be used, he added, “in any transportation sector application that needs high power and high energy density.”
The total findings of the study were published within the journal PRX Energy.