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Water Interlayer Found to Improve New Energy Storage Device

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When it comes to storing electrical energy the two dominant choices are batteries and capacitors. Batteries can store a great deal of energy but capacitors can charge and discharge significantly faster, so there has been a lot of effort to create a device that combines their properties. Researchers at North Carolina State University have created a proof-of-concept material that may help lead to exactly that.

For their work, the researchers were using crystalline tungsten oxide and a layered, crystalline tungsten oxide hydrate, which is almost identical except for atomically thin layers of water between the tungsten oxide layers. When the researchers charged the two materials for ten minutes, they found the regular tungsten oxide stored more energy than the hydrate, but after charging for just 12 seconds, the hydrate stored more. The hydrate also was more efficient at storing this energy, losing less to heat.

Currently this is just a proof-of-concept for the idea of adding layers of solvents, like water, to materials to tune the ability for a material to transport ions between layers. Potentially this could be used to create thinner batteries, increased acceleration for electric vehicles, and faster storage for power grids using renewable energy sources. The researchers are now moving forward with National Science Foundation-funded work to tune the interlayer and hopefully improve their understanding of these materials.

Source: North Carolina State University

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