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Breakthrough could lead to smartphone batteries that last for weeks

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Every year you can usually count on a couple of battery breakthroughs being announced, but this latest one looks a tad more intriguing than the usual.

A team at the University of Central Florida has developed a process for creating supercapacitors with 20 times the battery life of current lithium-ion batteries.

The flexible supercapacitors can also be fully charged in a matter of seconds, and can be recharged more than 30,000 times without degrading.

Nitin Choudhary, a postdoctoral associate who conducted much of the research, said: “If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week.”

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The research has been published recently in the academic journal ACS Nano, and details how the researchers used nanomaterials to enable supercapacitors to hold more charge without increasing their size.

This was achieved by applying newly discovered two-dimensional materials, only a few atoms thick, to supercapacitors composed of millions of nanometer-thick wires.

The resulting supercapacitor allows for fast charging and discharging and contains high energy and power densities.

Choudhary added: "For small electronic devices, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability.”

Current lithium-ion batteries can be recharged fewer than 1,500 times before they start to degrade, whereas the UCF teams' creation can be recharged more than 30,000 times – that's more than other supercapictors which allow for a few thousand charges.

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The team says its technology could be used in phones and laptops, as well as electric vehicles. Plus, the flexible aspect means it could find its way into wearable tech.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we'll be seeing the newly created supercapacitor any time soon. Principal investigator on the project, Yeonwoong “Eric” Jung, said: "It’s not ready for commercialization. But this is a proof-of-concept demonstration, and our studies show there are very high impacts for many technologies.”

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