Nanotech

Different battery sizes. / Photo by: Aney via Wikimedia Commons

 

A new lightweight and efficient supercapacitor printed on a flexible plastic sheet developed by a group of researchers may replace standard batteries in devices and vehicles.

The supercapacitor they developed was created using a simple spray coating method that deposited the alternating layers of hybrid nanocomposites on a flexible plastic sheet. The method also allowed the layer-by-layer pattern to increase the movement of the charges and surface area, thus raising the efficiency of the novel supercapacitor.

Supercapacitors are useful power sources for electronic devices and vehicles that need a quick burst of energy. They charge quickly and work with almost 100 percent efficiency as other batteries. But their large size, low energy capacity, and high manufacturing cost make them least favored by many device manufacturers. So, tweaking the size and performance is the key for these energy devices to be used widely.

In the study, the researchers investigated on how to make a supercapacitor with a smaller size, yet can hold more power than a standard type. They applied materials like carbon nanotubes to create one but the finished product was bulky with a reduced surface area. 

Instead of using the standard method for building supercapacitors, they used a spray method to deposit thin, alternating layers of manganese dioxide-coated carbon nanotubes and reduced graphene oxide on a standard polyethylene terephthalate plastic sheet.

"We can actually print these supercapacitors anywhere, on any substrate; thus they can easily be mounted on any surface just like a simple spray on the walls," said Abha Misra, the senior author of the study and an associate professor at the Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics at Indian Institute of Science.

The spray technique allowed them to strategically place the materials on the plastic sheet, so the final product would have better efficiency. When they compared it to existing supercapacitors, the layered hybrid model showed a larger energy capacity. At the same time, the flexibility of the material did not affect its performance.