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  • Writer's pictureMaher El-Kady

Daily Mail: The battery breakthrough that could charge your iPhone in five SECONDS

Researchers have revealed a radical new type of battery that could charge a mobile phone or even a car in seconds.

Called micro-scale graphene-based supercapacitors, the devices can charge and discharge a hundred to a thousand times faster than standard batteries.

Made from a one-atom–thick layer of carbon, can be easily manufactured and readily integrated into gadgets - and could even lead to far smaller phones.

The team say their breakthrough could least to faster charging phones and cars, but also smaller gadgets.

'The integration of energy-storage units with electronic circuits is challenging and often limits the miniaturization of the entire system,' said Richard Kaner, who is a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

To develop their new micro-supercapacitor, the researchers used a two-dimensional sheet of carbon, known as graphene, which only has the thickness of a single atom in the third dimension.

The team also found a way to produce the new batteries easily - using a standard DVD burner.

'Traditional methods for the fabrication of micro-supercapacitors involve labor-intensive lithographic techniques that have proven difficult for building cost-effective devices, thus limiting their commercial application,' El-Kady said.

'Instead, we used a consumer-grade LightScribe DVD burner to produce graphene micro-supercapacitors over large areas at a fraction of the cost of traditional devices.

'Using this technique, we have been able to produce more than 100 micro-supercapacitors on a single disc in less than 30 minutes, using inexpensive materials.'

For a supercapacitor battery to be effective, two separated electrodes have to be positioned so that the available surface area between them is maximized.

This allows the supercapacitor to store a greater charge.

A previous design stacked the layers of graphene serving as electrodes, like the slices of bread on a sandwich. However, this didn't work with electronic circuits.

In their new design, the researchers placed the electrodes side by side using an interdigitated pattern, akin to interwoven fingers.

This helped to maximize the accessible surface area available for each of the two electrodes while also reducing the path over which ions in the electrolyte would need to diffuse.

As a result, the new supercapacitors have more charge capacity and rate capability than their stacked counterparts.

The researchers say people could even make the technology at home.

'The process is straightforward, cost-effective and can be done at home,' El-Kady said.

'One only needs a DVD burner and graphite oxide dispersion in water, which is commercially available at a moderate cost.'

The team say they are now hoping to begin working with gadget makers.

'We are now looking for industry partners to help us mass-produce our graphene micro-supercapacitors,' Kaner said.

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