Boy, does this look like fun. You got your flakes, your foam, your sheets of Kapton plastic, your laser, and you wake up in the morning with a hangover and a new type of super graphene battery. This interesting mashup comes to us by way of that dynamic duo of graphene, Rice University and the US Air Force (more on that later), so you know it’s got to be good.
For those of you new to the graphene topic, before we discovered nanocellulose fibers we were calling graphene the nanomaterial of the new millennium. Graphene is a sheet of carbon only one atom thick. This nano-slim frame provides it with exceptional strength and conductivity, dovetailing perfectly with new clean technology.
The problem is how to actually use something that is only one atom thick, and that’s where the graphene battery — the graphene supercapacitor, to be more precise — comes in.
The Rice University Graphene Battery
A supercapacitor is a type of battery that charges and discharges rapidly, so we’re going to just simplify things by calling it a battery most of the time.
The Rice team made their new graphene microsupercapacitor (same thing as a supercapacitor but smaller) using a process they call LIG, for laser induced graphene.
They solved the first problem — how to use something that is only one atom thick — by creating their graphene battery on a base of plastic film. That took some doing, as it turned out that not all plastic film is equal when it comes to graphene batteries.
They finally nailed it when they got to polyimide, a heat-resistant plastic film that’s been around for about 50 years or so.
The rest of the setup is relatively simple. Instead of trying to layer single-atom sheets of graphene onto the plastic, the team applied a porous foam of graphene flakes.