Published on Thursday July 17, 2014
During the past 5 to 7 years, the energy storage field has witnessed a dramatic expansion in research directed at materials that might combine the high energy density of batteries with the long cycle life and short charging times of supercapacitors. However, the blurring of these two electrochemical approaches can cause confusion and may lead to unwarranted claims unless careful attention is paid to fundamental performance characteristics. In a perspective article in the March 14, 2014 issue of Science, Distinguished University and Trustee Chair Professor Yury Gogotsi and his colleagues describe how electrochemical measurements can distinguish between different types of energy storage materials and their underlying mechanisms.
In an invited News and Views article titled "Energy Storage Wrapped Up", in the May 29, 2014 issue of Nature, Gogotsi discusses a coaxial cable design created by Zenan Yu and Jayan Thomas whereby a supercapacitor casing surrounds the cable, allowing it to store energy, as well as conduct it. Supercapacitors offer many advantages to battery storage, including higher power levels, less energy lost, and longer life spans. Gogotsi points to potential applications in cables connecting renewable energy sources, for example, to boost power to individual generators in a solar-energy farm when a cloud passes over, or to store energy produced by solar panels or wind-power generators. Additionally, energy storing coaxial cable can play a role in reducing electronic devices’ bulky battery size, and increase the lifespan of electronic equipment batteries and battery charge length. Finally, lightweight, flexible versions can be integrated into textiles, creating energy-storage devices and systems that are flexible and wearable.