Flexible, Three-Dimensional Supercapacitors

The flexible material created at Rice University has the potential for use in electronics or for energy storage.Image: Tour Group/Rice University

The flexible material created at Rice University has the potential for use in electronics or for energy storage.
Image: Tour Group/Rice University

James Tour and his group at Rice University have developed and tested a flexible, three-dimensional supercapacitor with the potential to be scaled up for commercial applications.

In this study, the researchers advanced what they had already developed in laser-induced graphene (LIG) by producing and testing the stacked, three-dimensional supercapacitors.

Their prior findings showed that firing a laser at an inexpensive polymer burned off other elements and left a film of porous graphene, which has the potential to be the perfect electrode for supercapacitors or electronic circuits.

The researchers began by making vertically aligned supercapacitors with laser-induced graphene on both sides of a polymer sheet.

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Member Spotlight – Ryohei Mori

The aluminum-air battery has the potential to serve as a short-term power source for electric vehicles.Image: Journal of The Electrochemical Society

The aluminum-air battery has the potential to serve as a short-term power source for electric vehicles.
Image: Journal of The Electrochemical Society

A new long-life aluminum-air battery is set to resolve challenges in rechargeable energy storage technology, thanks to ECS member Ryohei Mori.

Mori’s development has yielded a new type of aluminum-air battery, which is rechargeable by refilling with either salt or fresh water.

The research is detailed in an open access article in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, where Mori explains how he modified the structure of the previous aluminum-air battery to ensure a longer battery life.

Theoretically, metal-air technology can have very high energy densities, which makes it a promising candidate for next-generation batteries that could enable such things as long-range battery-electric vehicles.

However, the long-standing barrier of anode corrosion and byproduct accumulation have halted these batteries from achieving their full potential. Dr. Mori’s recently published paper, “Addition of Ceramic Barriers to Aluminum-Air batteries to Suppress By-product Formation on Electrodes,” details how to combat this issue.

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A New Generation of Electric Car Battery

Scientists out of the University of Waterloo are one step closer to inventing a cheaper, lighter and more powerful rechargeable battery for electric vehicles. At the heart of this discovery lies a breakthrough in lithium-sulfur batteries due to an ultra-thin nanomaterial.

This from the University of Waterloo:

Their discovery of a material that maintains a rechargeable sulfur cathode helps to overcome a primary hurdle to building a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery. Such a battery can theoretically power an electric car three times further than current lithium-ion batteries for the same weight – at much lower cost.

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Tech Highlights

Check out what’s trending in electrochemical and solid state technology! Read some of the most exciting and innovative papers that have been recently published in ECS’s journals.

The articles highlighted below are Open Access! Follow the links to get the full-text version.

“Modeling Volume Change due to Intercalation into Porous Electrodes”
Published in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society
Lithium-ion batteries are electrochemical devices whose performance is influenced by transport processes, electrochemical phenomena, mechanical stresses, and structural deformations. Many mathematical models already describe the electrochemical performance of these devices. Some models go further and account for changes in porosity of the composite electrode. Read the rest.

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New Smartphone Battery Charges in Seconds

The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is coming to a close, but not before showcasing a huge breakthrough in battery technology.

The Israeli start-up company StoreDot showed off their new product at CES: a smartphone battery that can charge in just seconds.

StoreDot’s battery charges 100 times faster than the present lithium-ion batteries and can last about five hours on a two minute charge.

However, the battery cannot be retrofitted to existing devices because most phones would be fried by the 40 amps of electricity. Instead, StoreDot’s battery is completely new – containing special synthesized organic molecules.

“We have reactions in the battery that are non-traditional reactions that allow us to charge very fast, moving ions from an anode to a cathode at a speed that was not possible before we had these materials,” Doron Myersdorf, the company’s chief executive, told BBC.

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Toyota is looking to propel the future of the fuel cell vehicle with the recent announcement that they will be granting royalty-free use to thousands of their patents.

“I’m happy and extremely proud to announce to you today that Toyota will grant royalty-free use of all 5,680 of our fuel cell patents, including pending patents,” said Senior Vice President of Toyota’s Automotive Operations, Bob Carter, on January 5 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The patents are to be used by companies manufacturing and selling fuel cell vehicles. Carter stated that these patents – which are critical to the development and production of fuel cells vehicles – will be available through 2020.

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Nanosensor to Detect Extraterrestrial Life

The EPFL scientists successfully tested their novel system with isolated bacteria, yeast, mouse and human cells.Credit:

The EPFL scientists successfully tested their novel system with isolated bacteria, yeast, mouse and human cells.
Credit: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Could nanotechnology be the key to discovering extraterrestrial life? The scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) believe so.

A team at EPFL made up of Giovanni Dietler, Sandor Kasa and Giovanni Longo has developed an extremely sensitive nanosensor that can detect organisms as small as bacteria, yeast, and even cancer cells.

The scientits believe that this is a novel innovation that can be applied to the search for extraterrestrial life. Prior to this development, finding life on other plants has been dependent on chemical detection. The researchers have veered away from this idea and have decided to depend on detecting motion, seeing as it is a trait of life.

The nanosensor uses a nano-sized cantilever to detect motion. A cantilever – or simply a beam that is anchored only at one end, with the other end bearing a load – is typically used in the design of bridges and buildings, but this application takes the very same idea and implements it on a micrometer scale.

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graphene_manchester

The heterostructures is based on 2D atomic crystals for photovoltaic applications.
Image: University of Manchester

Researchers from the University of Manchester in conjunction with the National University of Singapore have discovered an exciting new development with the wonder material graphene.

The researchers have been able to combine graphene with other one-atom thick materials to create the next generation of solar cells and optoelectronic devices.

With this, they have been able to demonstrate how multi-layered heterostructures in a three-dimensional stack can produce an exciting physical phenomenon exploring new electronic devices.

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How Are Nanomotors Being Built? (Video)

Carbon nanotubes are exceptionally strong, but when you roll two that fit together, the engineers believe they’ve got a nanomotor.Image: Nature

Carbon nanotubes are exceptionally strong, but when you roll two that fit together, the engineers believe they’ve got a nanomotor.
Image: Nature

Ray Kurzweil – an author, computer scientists, inventor, futurist, and director of engineering at Google – has once been quoted saying, “In 25 years, a computer that’s the size fo your phone will be millions of times more powerful but will be the size of a blood cell.”

That prediction may be on its way to fruition with this new discovery from engineers in China and Australia.

The engineers have developed a double-walled carbon nanotube motor, which could be a huge player in future nanotechnology devices.

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Sensors Meet Sports: The ‘Smart’ Helmet

A UW senior medical engineer explains how the smart helmet can aid to player safety by using sensor technology.Credit: Andy Manis/Journal Sentinel

A UW senior medical engineer explains how the smart helmet can aid in player safety by using sensor technology.
Credit: Andy Manis/Journal Sentinel

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are not just interested in improving technology and creating innovative design, but rather they are determined to make us rethink the way the physical and digital world interact.

These students have spent months in the University’s Internet of Things Lab, where they work to measure, monitor and control the physical world by heightening its interaction with the Internet.

The main innovation that the lab has developed is a football helmet that can detect injuries.

Cross-disciplinary teams of students have come together to develop a high-tech football helmet that has brain wave probes and a device that measures acceleration forces, which gives the ability to detect concussions on the field and directly communicate the information to medical staff.

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