Researchers at UCLA have discovered a way to make graphene batteries that charge super fast, are inexpensively produced, are non-toxic, and that blow current battery technology out of the water in terms of efficiency and performance.
An iPhone powered by a graphene supercapacitor could charge in five-seconds. A MacBook powered by a graphene supercapacitor could charge 30-seconds. Electric cars powered by the technology could be charged as quickly as filling a car with a tank of gas.
The new energy technology was developed by Richard Kaner, a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA where he is also a professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Working with Maher El-Kady, a grad student, the scientists invented a way to produce micro-scale graphene-based batteries using a standard LightScribe DVD burner.
“To label discs using LightScribe, the surface of the disc is coated with a reactive dye that changes color on exposure to the laser light. Instead of printing on this specialized coating, our approach is to coat the disc with a film of graphite oxide, which then can be directly printed on,” Kaner said. “We previously found an unusual photo-thermal effect in which graphite oxide absorbs the laser light and is converted into graphene in a similar fashion to the commercial LightScribe process. With the precision of the laser, the drive renders the computer-designed pattern onto the graphite oxide film to produce the desired graphene circuits.”
The micro-supercapacitors created by Kaner and El-Kady are highly bendable and twistable and will be ideal for future flexible displays, e-paper, and wearable electronics.
Graphene batteries sound almost too good to be true. In addition to super fast charging, they don’t have any negative environmental impact. They are biodegradable and even compostable.
“We are now looking for industry partners to help us mass-produce our graphene micro-supercapacitors,” Kaner said.
This video released last December features Kaner and El-Kady demonstrating how they make their graphene batteries and how they work.