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A new type of electrode that could lead to the development of more efficient and lighter supercapacitors has been unveiled by researchers in India. The electrode has a new hybrid structure that is made from iron and nickel nanowires, and could be used to boost the capacitance, current density and charging/discharging rates of big capacitors used to store large amounts of electrical energy. The electrodes are inexpensive and environmentally friendly to produce, say the researchers, and could someday be used to make supercapacitors to power a range of devices, from mobile phones to electric cars.

 

nanowire electrode

 

Supercapacitors store energy by separating positive and negative charge through electrochemical reactions that involve the exchange of electrons and ions at the interfaces between two electrodes and an electrolyte. These devices combine the large-scale energy-storage properties of batteries with the rapid charging times and long lifespans of conventional capacitors. In principle, supercapacitors could be used to create electric cars that could be fully charged in minutes, and mobile phones that would charge in seconds. Today, however, a supercapacitor is much larger and heavier than a conventional battery that holds the same amount of energy.