UCLA researchers have developed a groundbreaking technique that uses a DVD burner to fabricate micro-scale graphene-based supercapacitors. These devices can charge and discharge a hundred to a thousand times faster than standard batteries.
The consumer grade LightScribe DVD writer enabled the team to build more than 100 of the supercapacitors on one DVD “in less than 30 minutes”. The devices are built on flexible substrates for flexible electronics and on-chip uses that can be integrated with MEMS or CMOS in a single chip. This big breakthrough could make the micro supercapacitors ready for large scale manufacturing.
Richard Kaner of the university’s NanoSystems Institute, working with graduate student Maher El-Kady, placed a layer of plastic on a DVD and then applied a layer of graphite oxide. This was etched by the DVD burner’s laser into grapheme to create the interdigitated pattern. They then removed the graphene-bearing plastic layer and cut it into the desired shape.
Instead of trying to stack the graphene electrodes, the researchers placed them side by side, maximising the surface area that the electrodes present to each other, increasing the charge carrying capacity.
The new micro-supercapacitors are also highly bendable and twistable, making them potentially useful as energy-storage devices in flexible electronics like roll-up displays and TVs, e-paper, and even wearable electronics.
The new supercapacitors could also be fabricated on the backside of solar cells in both portable devices and rooftop installations to store power generated during the day for use after sundown, helping to provide electricity around the clock when connection to the grid is not possible.