Microscopic Supercapacitor Research Featured in IEEE Spectrum

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Professor Ric Kaner and postdoc Maher El-Kady have published an easy to understand article about their research in IEEE Spectrum.

In the article titled “How a Microscopic Supercapacitor Will Supercharge Mobile Electronics”, published in the October 2015 issue, the materials chemists explain how the next generation portable electronics could be shrunk using simple microscale supercapacitor developed in the Kaner Lab.  

With a circulation of over 380,000 readers worldwide, IEEE Spectrum is one of the world’s leading science and engineering magazines. The magazine’s articles are meant to be accessible to non-specialists, though it is assumed that most of their readers have an engineering background. 

“We are excited by the magazine offering us the opportunity to turn our research ideas into simple illustrations with the help of their graphic designers”, said Ric Kaner.

Kaner ElKady
Professor Ric Kaner and postdoc Dr. Maher F. El-Kady

Excerpt from IEEE Spectrum (by Maher F. El-Kady & Richard B. Kaner): Capacitors. Open up your computer and they stick out like rocks on a sandy beach. They’re the one kind of electronic device that never made it to Lilliput. If they finally obeyed Moore’s Law by squeezing themselves down to the microscale, it would make life a lot easier for electronics engineers. With tiny but powerful capacitors you could make cheaper, even tinier cardiac pacemakers and computers. They’d be great in nonvolatile memory, microsensors and actuators, RFID tags, and microelectromechanical systems, applications in which the power supplies can weigh up to 10 times as much as the other parts combined. And because, like all capacitors, such devices would be able to release their charge very rapidly, they could be coupled with high-energy batteries to provide periodic surges, as conventional capacitors do to power the flash in smartphone cameras. (Miniaturized supercapacitors could thus lead to even thinner smartphones.) Our group at the University of California, Los Angeles, has created such microsupercapacitors using a simple DVD burner to forge the one-atom- thick sheets known as graphene on which these devices are formed, in arrays. Together with a battery, such supercapacitors could run a cellphone for days. And because an array is less than 10 micrometers thick—far finer than a human hair—it is completely flexible. Build these arrays on flexible substrates and they could power a roll-up display. Read entire article here.  The article appeared in print here. This research is funded by Nanotech Energy, Inc, a startup that was formed in 2014 to move the world’s cutting-edge research on graphene supercapacitors and micro-supercapacitor from the laboratory to the marketplace.  To learn more about the Kaner group’s research, visit their homepage.

Illustration by Greg Mably.  Photo by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.