Scientists from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. from India, have developed a stable material for pseudocapacitors or supercapacitors that store electrical energy through electron charge transfer. The material can provide an inexpensive, scalable energy storage solution as an alternative to batteries.
Dr. Ramendra Sundar Dey and his team at INST have formulated an interesting synthetic strategy to overcome the longstanding challenges of pseudocapacitors, their cycling stability and speed. Pseudocapacitors are a type of supercapacitors that store electrical energy through electron charge transfer.
The team first developed the pseudocapacitive material, a hybrid xerogel structure (a solid formed from a gel by drying with unhindered shrinkage). The hybrid material is made by the integration of a known organic molecule, dopamine, on a conductive matrix, such as graphene. This class of xerogel architectures, while listed in the literature as alternatives to conventional pseudocapacitors, lacks sufficient cycling stability to replace batteries in the consumer market.
Investigating the reason behind the performance degradation of the active materials over long hours of use, the researchers offered a new synthetic approach and then correlated it with the overall performance of the material with detailed mechanistic explanations and theoretical support by Dr. Abir De Sarkar from the same institute.
The pseudocapacitive material, an organic-inorganic hybrid xerogel, is promising as a low-cost and scalable energy storage solution for commercial applications. The INST team suggested that the method could serve as a universal approach and as a model system for organic-inorganic hybrid xerogel pseudocapacitors. The results were recently published in Journal of Material Chemistry A, 2020, DOI: 10.1039 / d0ta02477e (I.F: 10.733).
The scientists invented the pseudocapacitive material through a unique two-step synthesis procedure tailor-made to reap the maximum structural benefits of the hybrid material. First, they followed a typical hydrothermal synthesis method that anchored the redox group on the carbon support. However, they introduced a unique in situ electrochemical polymerization approach, in the second step of the synthesis, in an effort to increase overall storage capacity and bicycle stability. To support the development of the self-supporting smart electronics, the group manufactured a fully solid-state supercapacitor with this active material and a tandem configuration of the devices to serve as the power source to light up 1.7 Volt commercial LED lamps.
The new synthesis approach, as well as the study of the mechanism of redox supercapacitors at the molecular level, will provide new insights into improving the longstanding problem of stability and inferior power of pseudocapacitors. The scientists say that it can advance future research in organic pseudocapacitors and provide an effective strategy to facilitate progress towards a self-sustaining energy future.
(With inputs from PIB)
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