Laser-Induced Graphene Looks to Displace Batteries With Supercapacitors

Researchers continue to refine the process for producing laser-induced graphene that promises big changes in energy storage

2 min read
Laser-Induced Graphene Looks to Displace Batteries With Supercapacitors
Photo: Tour Group/Rice University

Almost exactly a year ago, we first got word that researchers at Rice University had developed a method for producing graphene that features a computer-controlled laser. They dubbed the result laser-induced graphene (LIG).

Since then, LIG has been proposed for flexible supercapacitors that could power wearable electronics.

The researchers at Rice have continued to pursue supercapacitors for this new form of graphene and have continued to refine the LIG process to the point where they now believe it may be capable of moving energy storage away from batteries and towards supercapacitors.

The key attribute of LIG is how comparatively easy it is to produce as opposed to graphene made via chemical vapor deposition. For LIG, all that is needed is a commercial polyimide plastic sheet and a computer-controlled laser. The Rice researchers discovered that the laser would burn everything on the polyimide except the carbon from the top layer. What remains is a form of graphene.

You can see a description and demonstration of the process in the video below.

The researchers think that this process will ultimately lend itself to roll-to-roll production. That will eliminate complex manufacturing conditions that have thus far limited the widespread application of microsupercapacitors.

“It’s a pain in the neck to build microsupercapacitors now,” said James Tour, who has been leading this line of research at Rice since the beginning, in a press release. “They require a lot of lithographic steps. But these we can make in minutes: We burn the patterns, add electrolyte and cover them.”

The researchers claim that the microsupercapacitors they have fabricated using LIG have demonstrated an energy density that is on par with thin-film lithium-ion batteries. The microsupercapitors’ capacitance was measured at 934 microfarads per square centimeter; they boast an energy density of 3.2 milliwatt-hours per cubic centimeter. As these are supercapacitors, their power density far exceeds that of batteries. Perhaps most importantly, the devices did not exhibit any degradation over time, maintaining mechanical stability even after being bent 10,000 times.

Encouraging as these numbers are, there yet remains some work to be done before supercapacitors displace batteries.

We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting closer all the time,” said Tour in the press release. “In the interim, they’re able to supplement batteries with high power. What we have now is as good as some commercial supercapacitors. And they’re just plastic.”

The Conversation (0)

3 Ways 3D Chip Tech Is Upending Computing

AMD, Graphcore, and Intel show why the industry’s leading edge is going vertical

6 min read
AMD 3D V-Cache
AMD
DarkBlue1

A crop of high-performance processors is showing that the new direction for continuing Moore’s Law is all about up. Each generation of processor needs to perform better than the last, and, at its most basic, that means integrating more logic onto the silicon. But there are two problems: One is that our ability to shrink transistors and the logic and memory blocks they make up is slowing down. The other is that chips have reached their size limits. Photolithography tools can pattern only an area of about 850 square millimeters, which is about the size of a top-of-the-line Nvidia GPU.

For a few years now, developers of systems-on-chips have begun to break up their ever-larger designs into smaller chiplets and link them together inside the same package to effectively increase the silicon area, among other advantages. In CPUs, these links have mostly been so-called 2.5D, where the chiplets are set beside each other and connected using short, dense interconnects. Momentum for this type of integration will likely only grow now that most of the major manufacturers have agreed on a 2.5D chiplet-to-chiplet communications standard.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}