DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2018-06-22 15:25:44
    • Article ID: 696330

    As Future Batteries, Hybrid Supercapacitors Are Super-Charged

    A new supercapacitor could be a competitive alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

    • Credit: Berkeley Lab

      A scanning electron microscopy image of vertically aligned carbon nanotube electrodes coated with titanium disulfide deposited one atomic layer at a time. The magnified inset shows individual titanium disulfide coated carbon nanotube electrodes (μm=micrometer).

    The Science

    A newly discovered supercapacitor has the highest energy density of any comparable system as demonstrated by a team of Molecular Foundry users and staff. These ultracapacitors can be charged and discharged repeatedly. The team’s new design approach also makes them very stable.

    The Impact

    The new supercapacitor performs far better than earlier versions. It is less likely to self-discharge or short circuit. Specifically, it has an operating voltage window three times larger than before. Further, it has the highest energy density of any similar capacitor. The higher voltage and high energy density mean the battery can achieve higher power and longer operating time—suggesting that they could be a competitive alternative to lithium batteries.

    Summary

    Capacitors are electrical components that store energy and are widely used in electronic devices. Typical supercapacitors, named for their ability to store more electrical charge than standard capacitors, store charge “physically” through the buildup of charges on their surfaces. On the other hand, pseudocapacitors can store charge "chemically" through redox reactions where one species transfers electrons to another, similar to a battery. 

    Pseudocapacitors can store as much charge as some batteries; however, while a battery charges and discharges over several hours (for example, charging and using your cell phone or laptop), pseudocapacitors can operate much faster, on the scale of tens of seconds to several minutes. Supercapacitors often show high power density and long operation lifetimes but are limited by having low energy density. While pseudocapacitors store more energy, their widespread use has been hampered by their narrow electrochemical voltage window, which is the voltage range where the electrode materials are stable.

    On its own, titanium disulfide is light, cheap, and has many potential benefits if used in a lithium-based energy storage system, but the material degrades rapidly and has relatively low conductivity. It’s been previously shown that coating nanocrystalline titanium disulfide onto vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (VACNTs) can form highly conductive, 3-D porous networks to improve electrical conductivity, increase surface area, and stabilize the electrochemical reactions. However, the existing methods for creating these pseudocapacitors have problems with uniform coverage, contamination, and high toxicity.

    The researchers from the University of California at Berkeley worked with the Molecular Foundry’s Adam Schwartzberg, an expert in atomic layer deposition (ALD), to develop a two-step process combining ALD with a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process to make coated VACNT electrodes that have precisely defined nanostructures. When used with an ultra-high concentration lithium-ion electrolyte, the “hybrid” supercapacitor has an operating voltage window three times larger than before, making it comparable to organic electrolyte systems. The hybrid supercapacitor also has the highest energy density of any other pseudocapacitor. The new capabilities could provide an alternative to lithium batteries.

    Scientists could use the new fabrication method combining ALD and CVD to coat titanium disulfide or other transition metal materials onto a variety of substrates. These coatings could lead to further advances in the next generation of energy storage systems. 

    Funding

    This work was performed in part at the Molecular Foundry, a user facility supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences and supported in part by Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center, a National Science Foundation/ Industry/University Research Collaboration Center.

    Publications

    X. Zang, C. Shen, E. Kao, R. Warren, R. Zhang, K.S. Teh, J. Zhong, M. Wei, B. Li, Y. Chu, M. Sanghadasa, A. Schwartzberg, and L. Lin, “Titanium disulfide coated carbon nanotube hybrid electrodes enable high energy density symmetric pseudocapacitors.” Advanced Materials 30, 1704754 (2017). [DOI: 10.1002/adma.201704754]

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    Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have discovered the relaxation dynamics of a zero-field state in skyrmions, a spinning magnetic phenomenon that has potential applications in data storage and spintronic devices.

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    Remote-Control Plasma Physics Experiment is Named One of Top Webcams of 2018

    EarthCam names remote-control experiment at PPPL one of 25 most interesting Webcams of 2018.

    Jefferson Lab Scientist Awarded Distinguished Lectureship

    Cynthia Keppel, leader of Jefferson Lab's Halls A&C, has been honored with the APS 2019 Distinguished Lectureship Award on the Applications of Physics.

    Journal Special Issues Honor Chemists Radoslav Adzic and Jan Hrbek

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    Argonne scientist elected as SAE Fellow

    Scientist Michael Wang from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory was recently inducted as a Fellow of the professional engineering organization SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers). The organization reserves this prestigious grade of membership for thosewho have made significant contributions to mobility technology and have demonstrated leadership in their field.

    Top 10 Discoveries of 2018

    Every year, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory compiles a list of the biggest advances made by the Lab's staff scientists, engineers, and visiting researchers. From uncovering mysteries of the universe to building better batteries, here, in no particular order, are our picks for the top 10 discoveries of 2018.

    U.S. Department of Energy Announces $33 Million for Small Business Research and Development Grants

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    DOE to Provide $16 Million for New Research into Atmospheric and Terrestrial Processes

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $16 million for new observational research aimed at improving the accuracy of today's climate and earth system models.

    Machine learning award powers Argonne leadership in engine design

    When attempting to design engines to be more fuel-efficient and emissions-free, automotive manufacturers have to take into account all the complexity inherent in the combustion process.

    ORNL partners with industry to address multiple nuclear technology challenges

    The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is collaborating with industry on six new projects focused on advancing commercial nuclear energy technologies that offer potential improvements to current nuclear reactors and move new reactor designs closer to deployment.

    Lithium earns honors for three physicists working to bring the energy that powers the sun to Earth

    Feature describes research of three PPPL physicists who have won the laboratory's 2018 outstanding research awards


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    Getting To Know the Microbes that Drive Climate Change

    The genetics of viruses living along a permafrost thaw gradient may help scientists better predict the pace of climate change.

    Observing Clouds in Four Dimensions

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    A Challenging Future for Tropical Forests

    Mortality rates of moist tropical forests are on the rise due to environmental drivers and related mechanisms.

    Rapid Lake Draining on Ice Sheets Changes How Water Moves in Unexpected Ways

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    New Historical Emissions Trends Estimated with the Community Emissions Data System

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    Peering into the Mist: How Water Vapor Changes Metal at the Atomic Level

    New insights into molecular-level processes could help prevent corrosion and improve catalytic conversion.

    Microbial Types May Prove Key to Gas Releases from Thawing Permafrost

    Scientists discover key types of microbes that degrade organic matter and release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

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    How Plants Regulate Sugar Deposition in Cell Walls

    Identified genes involved in plant cell wall polysaccharide production and restructuring could aid in engineering bioenergy crops.

    Scientists Identify Gene Cluster in Budding Yeasts with Major Implications for Renewable Energy

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