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Another day, another fascinating use for super-material graphene.
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and University of Texas – Austin have devised a method of using the atom thin carbon sheets that is a massive boost in the search for practical supercapacitor materials.
The new form of carbon can be incorporated into supercapacitor devices that are able to store massive amounts of energy while also being able to release it at a quick rate, as well as offering quick recharge time and 10,000 charge/discharge lifecycle.
Basically this is everything that is desirable in a battery, but which is difficult to do with traditional batteries as they store energy through chemical reactions which take considerably more time to react than supercapacitors which rely on charges stored in the form of ions on the surface of electrodes.
According to one researcher, such properties make the new form of carbon highly useful for energy requirements where a substantial amount is needed at a quick rate, giving electric cars as an example.
So far applications of supercapacitors have been limited to smaller devices such as mobile electronics, though the new form of carbon apparently means that higher energy storage comparable to a battery is possible while still retaining the attributes of supercapacitors, and essentially offering the best of both storage types.
The discovery was made by the team at the University of Texas which had originally attempted to create a porous form of carbon by restructuring “graphene platelets” and were able to correctly hypothesise the structure of three dimensional networks of atom-thick walls that are able to make the material act like a sponge in soaking up electrical current much more effectively.
The scientists are now looking at how they can manipulate the material to form into structures for specificed functions such as fuel cells, and though this is certainly at the development stage at the moment the team appear confident that they will be able to upscale to industrial production.