By Dr. Russell Chianelli, The University of Texas at El Paso. Materials Research and Technology Institute
Most reports on materials for energy storage concentrate on batteries. However, capacitors that are key to many applications, and products based on them, are receiving more attention. Novel composite materials such as organic/inorganic hybrid nano-materials are increasing the ability of capacitors to store energy. Mitch Jacoby discusses some of these materials in an article in a recent edition of Chemical & Engineering News.1
Simple capacitors know as dielectrics have been studied since the days of Benjamin Franklin. Today better capacitors are needed by the Navy, for example, for aircraft launch systems that require large bursts of power. Materials such as highly branched copper phthalocyanine polymers are showing promise as high-energy storage capacitors. They are also examples of university research leading to start-up technology: Wolverine Energy Solutions & Technology, a start-up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is advancing these materials for military, medical, and automotive applications.
Other high-energy-storage materials are hybrids that combine an organic polymer with inorganic nanoparticles. Nanoparticles of ZrO2 attached to polyvinylidene fluoride are a recent example described in Jacoby’s article. There is almost an endless number of possible new materials to be investigated. The article quotes materials science Professor Tobin J. Marks of Northwestern University as saying, “Let’s wipe the blackboard clean and use our imaginations, synthetic talents, and materials processing skills to make new generation of advanced materials.” Good advice from a master materials scientist!
- M. Jacoby, "Why Quantum Dots Blink", Chemical & Engineering News, Dec. 1, 2011, ISSN 0009-2347.