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A flexible supercapacitor might power future wearables thanks to research

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Research from the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and the Federal University of Pelotas (ufpel), Brazil, has shown how a supercapacitor can be efficiently manufactured into a high-performance and low-cost power storage device that can easily be integrated into footwear, clothing and accessories to extend wearable devices’ operating life – and more.

“While supercapacitors can certainly boost the lifespan of wearable consumer technologies, they have the potential to be revolutionary when you think about their role in autonomous vehicles and AI-assisted smart sensors that could help us all conserve energy. This is why it’s important that we create a low-cost and environmentally-friendly way to produce this incredibly promising energy storage technology,” said Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and Head of the Nano-Electronics Centre at the University of Surrey.

The research team’s idea involves carbon nanomaterials to create flexible supercapacitors, which the team claims is cheaper and less time-consuming. The fabrication method involves transferring aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) arrays from a silicon wafer to a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) matrix. This is then coated in a material called polyaniline (PANI), which stores energy through a mechanism known as “pseudocapacitance”, offering outstanding energy storage properties with exceptional mechanical integrity.

A supercapacitor stores and releases energy like a typical battery, but with far quicker recharging and discharging times. The team’s enhanced, wafer-thin supercapacitor retains most of its capacitance after numerous cycles at different bending conditions, demonstrating its robustness, longevity and efficiency.

“The future is certainly bright for supercapacitors,” said Professor Silva.

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