By Joshua Ostrer
Want a phone that charges almost instantly? How about an electric car that charges in seconds?
Supercapacitors might just make all of that a reality, and possibly not too long from now either.
“Batteries have a bad reputation, but what we’re working on are supercapacitors. Supercapictors you can think of as a charge-storage device like a battery, except it charges and discharges 100 to 1,000 times faster,” said Richard Kaner Ph.D in the video that made him a finalist in GE’s Focus Forward Competition.
Scientists at UCLA are making giant strides in their work to develop the supercapacitor, not just for experiments, but for mass consumption.
The team, led by Kaner, has been working with a material called graphene. I
n Kaner’s own video, he explains the advantages of graphene: “Graphene is a single air carbon, it’s one of the strongest materials ever known, and it’s completely flexible.” These characteristics could allow its use in flexible devices.
What’s different about Kaner’s supercapacitor is that it holds a charge.
But what makes Kaner’s group’s work even more exciting is the progress that they’re making to mass-produce it.
They have been making the supercapacitor with nothing more than household items and a computer’s CD tray.
In their article abstract, the UCLA team announced that “more than 100 micro-supercapacitors can be produced on a single disc in 30 minutes or less.”
Supercapacitors might just change electronics across the world, especially now that the UCLA team is pursuing partners in industry to allow mass production.
Maybe it won’t be too long before worrying about battery life is a thing of the past.