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Communications of the ACM

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Flexible Battery, No Lithium Required


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Rice University postdoctoral researcher Yang Yang holds an energy storage unit with the best qualities of batteries and supercapacitors in a scalable, flexible package.

A flexible material developed by researchers at Rice University can deliver battery-like supercapacitor performance without the lithium found in commercial batteries.

Credit: Jeff Fitlow

Researchers at Rice University have developed a flexible material with nanoporous nickel-fluoride electrodes layered around a solid electrolyte to deliver battery-like supercapacitor performance. The researchers say the device combines the best qualities of a high-energy battery and a high-powered supercapacitor without the lithium found in commercial batteries.

The electrochemical capacitor is about 1/100th of an inch thick, but can be scaled up for devices either by increasing the size or adding layers, and standard manufacturing techniques may enable the battery to be even thinner. The team created the device by depositing a nickel layer on a backing, etching it to create 5-nanometer pores within the 900-nanometer-thick nickel fluoride layer, and giving it high surface area for storage. Once the researchers removed the backing, they sandwiched the electrodes around an electrolyte of potassium hydroxide in polyvinyl alcohol.

Testing found the square-inch device held 76 percent of its capacity over 10,000 charge-discharge cycles and 1,000 bending cycles. The device could be used for flexible, portable, and wearable electronics.

From Rice University
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