Supercapacitors from nanotubes

Supercapacitors that can deliver a strong surge of electrical power could be manufactured from carbon nanotubes using a technique developed by researchers at UC Davis.


Ning Pan, a professor of textiles in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering and the Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology (NEAT) centre at UC Davis, postdoctoral researcher Chunsheng Du and Jeff Yeh of Mytitek of Davis prepared suspensions of carbon nanotubes – tiny rolled-up cylinders of carbon just a few atoms across.


They developed a method to deposit the nanotubes on nickel foil so that the nanotubes were aligned and packed closely together.


Conventional, or “Faraday” capacitors, store electrical charges between a series of interleaved conducting plates. Because of their small size, the nanotubes provide a huge surface area on which to store and release energy, Pan said.


The new devices can produce a power density of 30 kilowatts per kilogram (kW/kg), compared with 4 kW/kg for the most advanced devices currently available commercially, Pan said.


Other researchers have only described laboratory supercapacitors capable of up to 20 kW/kg, he added.