Rice University researchers have created a solid-state, nanotube-based supercapacitor that promises to combine the best qualities of high-energy batteries and fast-charging capacitors in a device suitable for extreme environments.
The research takes EDLCs (electric double-layer capacitors) or supercapacitors to a new nanoscale level. EDLCs, which can hold hundreds of times more energy than a standard capacitor, rely on liquid or gel-like electrolytes. These can break down in very hot or cold conditions.
The Rice supercapacitor overcomes this limitation, by using a solid, nanoscale coat of oxide dielectric material, which entirely replaces electrolytes. The result is what researchers called “robust, versatile energy storage” that can be deeply integrated into the manufacture of devices. Potential uses span on-chip nanocircuitry to entire power plants.