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Study: Supercapacitors need to be just as stretchable

Posted: 19 Dec 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:supercapacitors? stretchable electronics? nanotube?

Stretchable electronics are the future of mobile electronics with potential applications that range from biomedical to wearable sensory devices and even cyber skin for robotic devices, claims Bingqing Wei, mechanical engineering professor and head researcher at the University of Delaware.

"Advances in soft and stretchable substrates and elastomeric materials have given rise to an entirely new field," says Wei. But even if scientists can engineer stretchable electronicswhat about their energy source? "Rechargeable and stretchable energy storage devices, also known as supercapacitors are urgently needed to complement advances currently being made in flexible electronics," explains Wei.

Fully stretchable supercapacitor

Fully stretchable supercapacitor. Composed of carbon nanotube macrofilms, a polyurethane membrane separator and organic electrolytes.

Wei's research group at the university is making significant progress in developing scalable, stretchable power sources for this type of application using carbon nanotube macrofilms, polyurethane membranes and organic electrolytes. This, he says, requires new thinking about materials processing and device manufacturing to maximise energy storage without compromising energy resources. To reveal a stretchable supercapacitator's true performance, the Wei group examined the system's electrochemical behaviour using buckled single-wall nanotube (SWNT) electrodes and an elastomeric separator.

According to Wei, the supercapacitor developed in his lab achieved excellent stability in testing and the results will provide important guidelines for future design and testing of this leading-edge energy storage device. As they work to refine the technology, Wei has filed a provisional patent to protect his team's research. The work was recently published in Nano Letters, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

- Julien Happich
??EE Times Europe

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