The picture inset is a closeup of the porous gold used in the capacitor (via CNSR)
Batteries are the one thing you never have enough of and seem to die when you need them most. If only there was a battery that would work forever. Maybe this innovation will happen sooner than you think. A team of scientists from the INRS Centre Energie Materiaux Telecommunications and the Laboratory of Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS-CNRS) have created a micro-supercapacitor that has the same energy density as a modern lithium ion battery. This means it could potentially last forever. These supercapacitors have been sought after by scientists and inventors like, Elon Musk, as a replacement for standard batteries due to their ability of recharging numerous times without losing their capacity. A battery that lasts forever? It sounds too good to be true! Well, there is a catch.
The capacitor's cathode is pretty small in size, only a few square millimeters since it's built out of pricey materials like gold and ruthenium oxide, which is a mixture of a rare metal and oxygen. But the research is still in the preliminary stages, so there's a chance it can be scaled up. If this turns out to be true, it could lead to capacitors with the same energy density as current batteries with much lower charging times and longer lifespans.
One of the key components of this new battery is the 3D electrode. Usually, electrodes are pretty thin, which limits their performance. To get past this, scientists have built a 3D electrode from porous gold, increasing its available surface area. When this electrode is mixed with ruthenium oxide it has a greater output of energy. Speaking about the electrode and it's capacity INRS professor Daniel Guay provided some more information:
“We designed this new 3D electrode using an electrochemical process to synthesize a very porous gold structure. Ruthenium oxide, a pseudocapacitative material featuring high electrical conductivity and very good cyclability, was then inserted into the structure, resulting in unsurpassed energy density. For this type of application, component sizes are reduced to a few square millimeters, making it possible to use such expensive materials.”
Scientists have a lot of potential uses for these micro-batteries. While they won't be used for instantly charging your cellphone or powering electric cars, they can be used in wearables, such as smart watches, and autonomous sensor networks. With such a huge step forward in a longer lasting battery, maybe the day when we don't have to buy Duracells from Walgreens will be here sooner than you think.
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