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Nanowire Yarns Could Make Useful Supercapacitors


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Currently batteries dominate for energy storage, but they are not always the ideal choice. Batteries work well for storing large amount of energy, but are not able to deliver powerful bursts of energy on demand, without being larger than desirable. One solution is to add supercapacitors to the mix, and researchers at MIT have discovered a new approach to making these supercapacitors that may be viable.

This new approach is to use yarns of niobium nanowires to make the supercapacitors. Similar supercapacitors of carbon materials, such as nanotubes, have been made before, but these niobium yarns are stronger, far more conductive, and can also store more power. As niobium is abundant and already used a lot, these yarns could be cheaply and easily made, completing a fairly promising picture. It is not quite the ideal combination of high power density, high energy density, and low cost, but it is pretty close.

The next step, which work has already begun on, is to bring production up from lab-scale on a version useable for electronics. Once it hits commercial production levels, we could see these yarns used in mobile and wearable electronics to deliver the bursts needed for sending wireless signals, and subsequently shrink the devices' sizes. As the niobium yarns are flexible, it could also be woven into fabrics, opening up new technological possibilities.

Source: MIT

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