Researchers at the Melbourne Institute of Technology have developed a groundbreaking electrode which they say could boost the capacity of existing energy storage technologies by 3,000%.
The new graphene-based electrode is designed to work with supercapacitors, which can charge and discharge power much faster than conventional batteries. The wide use of supercapacitors as a storage solution is restricted because of their limited capacity.
The new design, which employs intricate self-repeating patterns known as “fractals”, was inspired by the leaves of the western swordfern which are densely crammed with veins, making them extremely efficient for storing energy and transporting water around the plant.
The new electrode is based on these fractal shapes, using this naturally-efficient design to improve solar energy storage at a nano level.
Experiments have shown that the prototype electrode can radically increase energy storage capacity to 30 times more than current capacity limits.
Because the new electrodes are based on flexible thin film technology, they have the potential of being combined with a solar cell, to provide total on-chip energy harvesting and storage.
The research team will now focus on integrated the electrodes with flexible solar cells with the ultimate aim of achieving fully solar-reliant, self-powering electronics.