A new material from UCLA researchers could significantly improve energy delivery in devices ranging from consumer goods to electrical grids and hybrid vehicles.
Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a synthesized form of niobium oxide that shows promise for storing and releasing energy rapidly. The new material could be used in supercapacitors that could lead to extremely rapid charging of both mobile gadgets and industrial equipment.
According to the research team, the material has a "great facility for storing energy", and combines the best parts of batteries and supercapacitors, because it has a high storage capacity (as a battery does), but can also release the energy as rapidly (as a capacitor does).
"With this work, we are blurring the lines between what is a battery and what is a supercapacitor. The discovery takes the disadvantages of capacitors and the disadvantages of batteries and does away with them." - Veronica Augustyn, grad student in materials science at UCLA and lead author of the paper
The new type of niobium oxide takes advantage of something called intercalation pseudocapacitance, "in which ions are deposited into the bulk of the niobium oxide in the same way grains of sand can be deposited between pebbles," to achieve a high storage capacity. According to the team, electrodes as thick as 40 microns made with the new material can quickly store and deliver energy as efficiently as electrodes 100 times thinner, which could lead to practical applications for rapid charging in consumer and industrial devices.
The details of the team's research, which was led by Bruce Dunn, professor of materials science, were published in Nature Materials: High-rate electrochemical energy storage through Li+ intercalation pseudocapacitance