Yarns of niobium nanowire can make supercapacitors to provide a surge of energy when it’s needed
Wearable electronic devices for health and fitness monitoring are a rapidly growing area of consumer electronics; one of their biggest limitations is the capacity of their tiny batteries to deliver enough power to transmit data. Now, researchers at MIT and in Canada have found a promising new approach to delivering the short but intense bursts of power needed by such small devices.
The key is a new approach to making supercapacitors — devices that can store and release electrical power in such bursts, which are needed for brief transmissions of data from wearable devices such as heart-rate monitors, computers, or smartphones, the researchers say. They may also be useful for other applications where high power is needed in small volumes, such as autonomous microrobots.
The new approach uses yarns, made from nanowires of the element niobium, as the electrodes in tiny supercapacitors (which are essentially pairs of electrically conducting fibers with an insulator between). The concept is described in a paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces by MIT professor of mechanical engineering Ian W. Hunter, doctoral student Seyed M. Mirvakili, and three others at the University of British Columbia.
Nanotechnology researchers have been working to increase the performance of supercapacitors for the past decade. Among nanomaterials, carbon-based nanoparticles — such as carbon nanotubes and graphene — have shown promising results, but they suffer from relatively low electrical conductivity, Mirvakili says.
In this new work, he and his colleagues have shown that desirable characteristics for such devices, such as high power density, are not unique to carbon-based nanoparticles, and that niobium nanowire yarn is a promising an alternative.
“Imagine you’ve got some kind of wearable health-monitoring system,” Hunter says, “and it needs to broadcast data, for example using Wi-Fi, over a long distance.” At the moment, the coin-sized batteries used in many small electronic devices have very limited ability to deliver a lot of power at once, which is what such data transmissions need.
“Long-distance Wi-Fi requires a fair amount of power,” says Hunter, the George N. Hatsopoulos Professor in Thermodynamics in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, “but it may not be needed for very long.” Small batteries are generally poorly suited for such power needs, he adds.
“We know it’s a problem experienced by a number of companies in the health-monitoring or exercise-monitoring space. So an alternative is to go to a combination of a battery and a capacitor,” Hunter says: the battery for long-term, low-power functions, and the capacitor for short bursts of high power. Such a combination should be able to either increase the range of the device, or — perhaps more important in the marketplace — to significantly reduce size requirements.
The new nanowire-based supercapacitor exceeds the performance of existing batteries, while occupying a very small volume. “If you’ve got an Apple Watch and I shave 30 percent off the mass, you may not even notice,” Hunter says. “But if you reduce the volume by 30 percent, that would be a big deal,” he says: Consumers are very sensitive to the size of wearable devices.
The innovation is especially significant for small devices, Hunter says, because other energy-storage technologies — such as fuel cells, batteries, and flywheels — tend to be less efficient, or simply too complex to be practical when reduced to very small sizes. “We are in a sweet spot,” he says, with a technology that can deliver big bursts of power from a very small device.
Ideally, Hunter says, it would be desirable to have a high volumetric power density (the amount of power stored in a given volume) and high volumetric energy density (the amount of energy in a given volume). “Nobody’s figured out how to do that,” he says. However, with the new device, “We have fairly high volumetric power density, medium energy density, and a low cost,” a combination that could be well suited for many applications.
Niobium is a fairly abundant and widely used material, Mirvakili says, so the whole system should be inexpensive and easy to produce. “The fabrication cost is cheap,” he says. Other groups have made similar supercapacitors using carbon nanotubes or other materials, but the niobium yarns are stronger and 100 times more conductive. Overall, niobium-based supercapacitors can store up to five times as much power in a given volume as carbon nanotube versions.
Niobium also has a very high melting point — nearly 2,500 degrees Celsius — so devices made from these nanowires could potentially be suitable for use in high-temperature applications.
In addition, the material is highly flexible and could be woven into fabrics, enabling wearable forms; individual niobium nanowires are just 140 nanometers in diameter — 140 billionths of a meter across, or about one-thousandth the width of a human hair.
Read more: Tiny wires could provide a big energy boost
The Latest on: Nanowire supercapacitors
[google_news title=”” keyword=”nanowire supercapacitors” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Nanowire supercapacitors
- SuperCapacitors Vs Batteries Againon November 15, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Supercapacitors are definitely not the same as batteries, we all know that. They tend to have a very low operating voltage, and due to their operating principle of storing charge on parallel ...
- Novel nanowire fabrication technique paves way for next generation spintronicson November 8, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Tokyo Institute of Technology. (2022, November 9). Novel nanowire fabrication technique paves way for next generation spintronics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 17, 2022 from www.sciencedaily ...
- Novel nanowire fabrication technique paves way for next generation spintronicson November 3, 2022 at 1:06 pm
As our world modernizes faster than ever before, there is an ever-growing need for better and faster electronics and computers. Spintronics is a new system which uses the spin of an electron, in ...
- More integrations and applications need to be involved with micro-supercapacitorson October 20, 2022 at 5:00 pm
They published their work on Aug. 3rd in Energy Material Advances. “The MSCs usually present planar structures, and the two electrodes are separated in plane without additional separator. The ...
- Choosing Between Supercapacitors and Li-ion Batteries in Industrial Applicationson October 19, 2022 at 5:00 pm
If energy storage is required, the choice is often between supercapacitors and rechargeable Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Therefore, it is important to understand the fundamental differences between ...
- Yahoo Homeon October 13, 2022 at 8:39 am
New York, Oct. 13, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Reportlinker.com announces the release of the report "Global Supercapacitors Industry" - https://www.reportlinker.com ...
- Intel Says Nanowire And NanoRibbon In Volume In Five Yearson October 12, 2022 at 5:00 pm
The replacement? Nanowire and nanoribbon structures. In traditional IC fabrication, FETs form by doping a portion of the silicon die and then depositing a gate structure on top of an insulating ...
- Nanowire photonicson October 6, 2022 at 4:42 am
This has led to a host of nanowire photonic devices including photodetectors, chemical and gas sensors, waveguides, LEDs, microcavity lasers, solar cells and nonlinear optical converters.
- Nanowire Transistorson April 2, 2021 at 3:14 am
Gupta, Manish and Kranti, Abhinav 2016. Transforming gate misalignment into a unique opportunity to facilitate steep switching in junctionless nanotransistors. Nanotechnology, Vol. 27, Issue. 45, p.
- Semiliquid battery competitive with both Li-ion batteries and supercapacitorson May 24, 2015 at 7:59 pm
The battery shows excellent rate capability that can be fully charged or discharged almost within one minute while maintaining good energy efficiency and reasonable energy density, representing a ...
via Bing News