Energy Transmission and Storage in One Cable
For decades we have been finding ways to make electronics smaller and smaller, but many of our devices have not shrunk accordingly. A primary reason for this is that batteries have not gotten smaller with the electronics, and in some case actually represent the bulk of the volume and mass. Researchers at the University of Central Florida however have developed a hybrid wire and supercapacitor that could shrink energy storage systems, by storing the energy in the line.
At the core of the cable is a copper wire, like those found in many electrical systems. On the wire the researchers grew nanowhiskers, which they then treated with a special alloy to create an electrode. As it takes two electrodes to store energy, the researchers had to find a way to add another, along with an insulating layer between them. Their solution was to add a thin sheet of plastic around the wire and whiskers, with more nanowhiskers, facing out, attached to the plastic. With two electrodes and an insulator between them, the researchers successfully created a supercapacitor on a transmission wire, enabling it to store the energy it will also carry when needed.
The potential for this technology is immense as the hybrid cable could drastically reduce the size and weight of many devices, such as launch vehicles, by removing the batteries. The research could also be applied to other materials and enable new technologies, such as clothing and fabrics capable of powering devices.
Source: University of Central Florida