Green micro-supercapacitors on a single leaf could easily be applied in wearable electronics, smart houses, and IoTs
< Image: The schematic illustration of the production of femtosecond laser-induced graphene. >
A KAIST research team has developed graphene-inorganic-hybrid micro-supercapacitors made of fallen leaves using femtosecond laser direct writing. The rapid development of wearable electronics requires breakthrough innovations in flexible energy storage devices in which micro-supercapacitors have drawn a great deal of interest due to their high power density, long lifetimes, and short charging times. Recently, there has been an enormous increase in waste batteries owing to the growing demand and the shortened replacement cycle in consumer electronics. The safety and environmental issues involved in the collection, recycling, and processing of such waste batteries are creating a number of challenges.
Forests cover about 30 percent of the Earth’s surface and produce a huge amount of fallen leaves. This naturally occurring biomass comes in large quantities and is completely biodegradable, which makes it an attractive sustainable resource. Nevertheless, if the fallen leaves are left neglected instead of being used efficiently, they can contribute to fire hazards, air pollution, and global warming.
To solve both problems at once, a research team led by Professor Young-Jin Kim from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Hana Yoon from the Korea Institute of Energy Research developed a novel technology that can create 3D porous graphene microelectrodes with high electrical conductivity by irradiating femtosecond laser pulses on the leaves in ambient air. This one-step fabrication does not require any additional materials or pre-treatment.
They showed that this technique could quickly and easily produce porous graphene electrodes at a low price, and demonstrated potential applications by fabricating graphene micro-supercapacitors to power an LED and an electronic watch. These results open up a new possibility for the mass production of flexible and green graphene-based electronic devices.
Professor Young-Jin Kim said, “Leaves create forest biomass that comes in unmanageable quantities, so using them for next-generation energy storage devices makes it possible for us to reuse waste resources, thereby establishing a virtuous cycle.”
This research was published in Advanced Functional Materials last month and was sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, the Korea Forest Service, and the Korea Institute of Energy Research.
Truong-Son Dinh Le, Yeong A. Lee, Han Ku Nam, Kyu Yeon Jang, Dongwook Yang, Byunggi Kim, Kanghoon Yim, Seung Woo Kim, Hana Yoon, and Young-jin Kim, “Green Flexible Graphene-Inorganic-Hybrid Micro-Supercapacitors Made of Fallen Leaves Enabled by Ultrafast Laser Pulses," December 05, 2021, Advanced Functional Materials (doi.org/10.1002/adfm.202107768)
Professor Young-Jin Kim
Ultra-Precision Metrology and Manufacturing (UPM2) Laboratory
Department of Mechanical Engineering