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Indian researchers create high capacity supercapacitor in miniature form

The device is small enough to be integrated into a wide range of applications

1308440323 (For representation)

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have created a highly efficient and compact supercapacitor capable of storing enormous amounts of electric charge.

The device is small enough to be integrated into a wide range of applications, including medical devices, consumer electronics, and electric cars. Unlike batteries, which lose their storage capacity over time, this new technology promises to deliver long-term, reliable performance.

Supercapacitors, on the other hand, combine the best of both batteries and capacitors they can store as well as release large amounts of energy, and are therefore highly sought-after for next-generation electronic devices.

In the current study, published in 'ACS Energy Letters', the researchers from IISc's Department of Instrumentation and Applied Physics (IAP), fabricated their supercapacitor using 'Field Effect Transistors' or FETs as the charge collectors, instead of the metallic electrodes that are used in existing capacitors.

"Using FET as an electrode for supercapacitors is something new for tuning charge in a capacitor," Abha Misra, Professor at IAP and corresponding author of the study, was quoted as saying in an IISc statement issued on Friday.

Current capacitors typically use metal oxide-based electrodes, but they are limited by poor electron mobility.

Therefore, Misra and her team decided to build hybrid FETs consisting of alternating few-atoms-thick layers of molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) and graphene to increase electron mobility which are then connected to gold contacts.

A solid gel electrolyte is used between the two FET electrodes to build a solid-state supercapacitor. The entire structure is built on a silicon dioxide/silicon base.

Misra says, "The design is the critical part, because you are integrating two systems." The two systems are the two FET electrodes and the gel electrolyte, an ionic medium, which have different charge capacities, she added.

Vinod Panwar, PhD student at IAP and one of the lead authors, adds that it was challenging to fabricate the device to get all the ideal characteristics of the transistor right. Since these supercapacitors are very small, they cannot be seen without a microscope, and the fabrication process requires high precision and hand-eye coordination.

Once the supercapacitor was fabricated, the researchers measured the electrochemical capacitance or charge-holding capacity of the device by applying various voltages. They found that under certain conditions, the capacitance increased by 3,000 per cent. By contrast, a capacitor containing just MoS2 without graphene showed only an 18 per cent enhancement in capacitance under the same conditions.

In the future, the researchers are planning to explore if replacing MoS2 with other materials can increase the capacitance of their supercapacitor even more. They add that their supercapacitor is fully functional and can be deployed in energy-storage devices like electric car batteries or any miniaturised system by on-chip integration. They are also planning to apply for a patent on the supercapacitor.  

(With inputs from PTI)