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New Capacitor Design Challenges Some Batteries for Energy Density

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:13AM

The two main ways I learned in school to store electricity are capacitors and batteries. These two technologies operate in very different ways and thus have very different applications. Capacitors are able to quickly charge and discharge, giving them a high power density, while batteries are slower to charge but can store large amounts of energy, meaning they have a high energy density. Something that can achieve both high power and energy densities would revolutionary by how much it would simplify technologies, and researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology may have that solution.

The researchers have created a hybrid material by combining a silica sol-gel thin film with a monolayer of octylphosphonic acid. The silica sol-gel is the part the researchers were first working with and found it acts well as a capacitor, but when they tested it on a mylar film the capacitors suffered high current leakage. This problem was solved by adding the octylphosphonic acid, which acts as an insulator and blocks the leakage, without impairing the capacitor's performance or flexibility.

When measured, the capacitors demonstrated a maximum energy density of 40 joules per cubic centimeters and a power density of 520 watts per cubic centimeter. This exceeds conventional capacitors as well as thin-film lithium ion batteries. The lithium ion batteries used in our devices and electric vehicles though are still superior, but this still marks the first time a capacitor has surpassed a battery for energy density.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

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