UCF's Supercapcitor Could Revolutionize Batteries

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Your phone battery hits zero as your friend's wheels hit pavement, and you couldn't record that epic moment. Your smartwatch battery hits zero as your foot hits the finish line, and you couldn't see your stats for that epic race. Moments like these are frustrating, and with today's powerful, battery-hungry gadgets, they're all too common. Some devices compensate with a huge battery or software optimizations that range from compromise to altogether questionable, but that doesn't solve the issue behind it all; current mobile battery tech just isn't up to snuff for most common use cases. Many researchers and research teams have stepped forward with possible solutions, but scientists from the University of Central Florida may have finally hit the nail on the head, albeit in very early prototype form.

What they've managed to create is a spin on the traditional supercapacitor, the incredible energy density and energy-elasticity traits of which could lead to the development of some seriously incredible battery technology in the near future, especially in smaller applications like mobile. While most supercapacitors get coated with something, many of them end up with energy leakage and slow flow as a result. Scientists with UCF were experimenting with different materials and processes that they could try with this goal in mind, and eventually wound up running across a process that could fuse the supercapacitor to a substrate coating only a few nanometers in size.

Using this process, the UCF team, led by Eric Jung, created a supercapacitor made of nanometer-thick wires that they were able to coat with two-dimensional and almost completely flat materials. This achieved a high-density, high-output substrate with a very small footprint. The supercapacitor that was made is able to be charged up super fast, and can hold a ton of energy despite its size. This essentially means that the future could very well be full of wafer-thin batteries that are small and flexible, allowing more freedom of design for phone manufacturers, and perhaps making swapping batteries a bit easier for consumers. On top of that, a sample specimen was able to go through some 30,000 full charge and discharge cycles with no sign of degrading. The supercapacitors are far from ready for primetime, but the potential is there for this find to completely do away with bulky battery packs and those frustrating moments when your gadget gives up the ghost.

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