Nanomaterial combines the advantages of batteries and supercapacitors

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The earth provides enough to meet the expectation of every man’s need but not every man’s greed, said Gandhiji. We consume energy faster than it can be produced; this draws the scientific attention towards the development of efficient methods that organizes production, storage, and transport of energy in a smart way. For example, when there is more supply of electricity than demand, the excess electricity produced can be used to power storage grids, such as during night when low-cost power plants continue to operate.

Electricity is a highly versatile form of energy, but it is practically challenging to store in haste. The majority knows that battery stores electricity in our mobiles, cameras, cars, etc., they can hold a large amount of power but takes hours to charge up. Capacitors, on the other hand, can charge up instantaneously but store a small quantity of power. We need to store and release a huge amount of electricity swiftly and here we turn to SUPERCAPACITORS (also known as ultracapacitors) that bridge the gap between conventional capacitors and rechargeable batteries.

What are they and why supercapacitors?

A typical supercapacitor is composed of the electrodes, electrolytes and a separator (to prevent contact between the two electrodes) and they differ from a regular capacitor in terms of their high capacitance, higher power and longer shelf life and cycle life.  Improving supercapacitors’ performance is key to the development and success of several energy storage technologies. They need to hold more power, be cheaper and safer; this could be achieved by the hyphenated application model of a supercapacitor, where continuous power usage can be provided but the primary energy source like batteries, whereas the supercapacitor can be used whenever there is peak power demand.

Scientists team (Dr. Sudeshna Chandra and her PhD student, Ms. Gita Singh) at Sunandan Divatia School of Science, NMIMS, Mumbai is engaged in developing novel ferrite nanomaterials to fabricate a device that combines the high energy densities of batteries and the quick charge and discharge rates of supercapacitors. A single device that combines all of these positive attributes could transform the present technological scenario, leading to lighter, compact phones and electric cars that can charge in seconds instead of hours, says Dr. Chandra.

Using nanoparticles of improvised conductivity, surface area and porosity, the internal structure of supercapacitors can be modified to pack energy and power densities for storing charges. It can also make the electrodes sponge-like which then speeds up the surface reactivity with the electrolyte and can blitz immense advantages in power enhancement and energy density. The scientist team will also exploring using these electrodes to build hybrid supercapacitors on a large scale.

Dr. Sudeshna Chandra is currently working as an Associate Professor in Department of Chemistry at NMIMS Sunandan Divatia School of Science (SDSOS). Her research areas are nanomaterials, dendrimer chemistry, electrochemistry and energy devices. She is a recipient of the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, Bonn and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) fellowship, Germany. Prior to joining SDSOS, she worked at IIT Bombay as research scientist on development of novel nanomaterials for various applications. She has authored over 60 publications in international journal of repute and has two patents. She has received two extramural research grants from Department of Science and Technology-Nanomission and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.