Graphene-Based Nano-Inks: Creating Small Supercapacitors

University distinguished professor of physics Christopher Sorensen and assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering Suprem Das from Kansas State University led a study that displayed possible ways to create graphene-based nano-inks for 3D manufacturing of supercapacitors in printable and flexible electronics form.

Speaker Grill Up Close Showing Repeating Hexagonal Pattern

Researchers around the world are examining alternatives for batteries. The challenge they are trying to overcome is the slow-charging process of batteries. The answer might be in the form of supercapacitors. They are energy devices that can discharge and charge within a few tens of seconds, which makes them extremely efficient and fast. Additive Manufacturing was utilized by Suprem Das and his team to build so-called micro-supercapacitors, which are small supercapacitors. The goal for the future is to use them for wafer-scale integration in silicon processing.

Patented Graphene Ink

Graphene has been accepted as a wonder material offering many possibilities because of its various superlative physical properties.

Das is particularly focused on forming the collaboration with Christopher Sorensen due to the highly scalable, energy-efficient and chemical-free nature of the manufacturing process of graphene and his own team’s graphene ink production process.

“We make high-quality, multilayer graphene by detonating fuel-rich mixtures of unsaturated hydrocarbons such as acetylene with oxygen in a multi-liter chamber,”

Sorensen said.

Many graphene manufacturing methods have been advancing across the globe. Furthermore, graphene has been and is being produced in huge amounts of quantities. Technologists, however, are fully conscious about the fact that graphene is not yet in the marketplace and not ready for it because none of these methods have had the right mixture of ecology, economy and product quality to allow graphene to achieve its potential. Nonetheless, according to Sorensen and Das, both of the methods of producing nano-inks and graphene developed at Kansas State University are on their way to realize the complete list of these requirements.

The Supercapacitors

“Additive manufacturing is fascinating, cost-effective and has versatile design considerations,”

Das said.

The team has created supercapacitors that have been through extensive trials. They have been tested in 10,000 cycles of discharging and charging cycles, a number that’s essential for the assessment of the reliability of such devices. Das’s team is also presently examining these micro-supercapacitors’ adaptability by printing on mechanically flexible materials.

“When you think about best materials and wish to make the best devices, it is not simple and straightforward,”

Das said.

“One needs to then understand the underpinning physics and chemistry involved in devices.”

The scientists used 20-micrometer-hin polyimide with great dependability for this study. The assistant professor is fascinated by the translation of developing materials into devices. Another benefit of Das’ development are the green features of the research that he imagined through fruitful debates with Sorensen. When Das met Sorensen, he understood he could use his knowledge in 3D printing to convert these materials into useful things, which in this case meant producing tiny energy storage devices.

A few months later, Das filed for a United States patent following the invention of a nano-ink technology and used it to show printed micro-supercapacitors. Both, the graphene ink method and the supercapacitor manufacturing process are patented or patent-pending technologies, as well as industrially vital, according to Das.

In what devices would you prioritise using these supercapacitors, that can charge and discharge in a few seconds? Would you get one for your private use at home? 

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