Taking a (small) step away from graphene, an apparent favorite for news from me, this item describes Rice University creating supercapacitors from graphite, also known as pencil lead and another form of carbon. The major breakthrough for the team involved actually was not making the supercapacitors, but discovering the characteristic of graphite oxide (GO) that made it all possible. Even though GO has been under study for the past five to ten years, no one had discovered its ability to act as an electrolyte and as an electric insulator when hydrated. Once they realized this property they burned a pattern into the GO, making reduced GO (RGO) wherever they aimed the laser. Reduced graphite oxide is an electrical conductor, thereby providing a conductor and insulator on the same piece of material. Without adding anything, the team made a supercapacitor that is capable of thousands of charge-discharge cycles and is comparable to current thin-film micro-supercapacitors. This could have impacts in both lithium ion batteries and fuel cells.
Carbon: quite an element.