Future laptops could be re-charged by static load in casing

Mobile & tablets

by CBR Staff Writer| 27 May 2014

Desperate search for power points could be over

In future you may not have to look out for a power plug or external power source to charge your lap top as scientists have developed a new material which can turn the laplop casing as its battery.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University's Nanomaterials and Energy Devices Laboratory have developed a supercapacitor that can store electricity by assembling electrically charged ions on the surface of a porous material, instead of storing it in chemical reactions as in batteries.

The wafer-shaped materials have been developed by graduate student of the university Andrew Westover and assistant professor of mechanical engineering Cary Pint.

Pint said, "These devices demonstrate - for the first time as far as we can tell - that it is possible to create materials that can store and discharge significant amounts of electricity while they are subject to realistic static loads and dynamic forces, such as vibrations or impacts."

"Andrew has managed to make our dream of structural energy storage materials into a reality," Pint added.

The material can store energy as well as withstand static and dynamic mechanical stresses. It can store and release electrical charge, subject to stresses or pressures up to 44 psi and vibrational accelerations over 80g which is far greater than those acting on turbine blades in a jet engine.

The duo has developed the material by using ion-conducting polymers infiltrated into nanoporous silicon that is etched directly into bulk conductive silicon.

The device platform claimed to maintain energy densities of about 10 W h/kg with Coulombic efficiency of 98% under exposure to over 300 kPa tensile stresses and 80 g vibratory accelerations.

Researchers also claimed that the structurally integrated energy storage material can be used across renewable energy systems, transportation systems, and mobile electronics, others.

The breakthrough could help in charging laptop with casing, or car powered by energy stored in its chassis, or create a smart home where the dry wall and siding store the electricity to power the lights and appliances.

"Battery performance metrics change when you're putting energy storage into heavy materials that are already needed for structural integrity," Pint added.

"Supercapacitors store ten times less energy than current lithium-ion batteries, but they can last a thousand times longer. That means they are better suited for structural applications."

"It doesn't make sense to develop materials to build a home, car chassis, or aerospace vehicle if you have to replace them every few years because they go dead."

The material is made of electrodes made from silicon that have been chemically treated so they have nanoscale pores on their inner surfaces and then coated with a protective ultrathin graphene-like layer of carbon.

A polymer film is sandwiched between the two electrodes which acts as a reservoir of charged ions, similar to the role of the electrolyte paste in a battery.

When the electrodes are pressed, the polymer flows into the tiny pores, similar to melted cheese into bread.

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