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Easier Way to Produce High Performing, Flexible Micro-Supercapacitor
(Professor Minyang Yang and PhD Student Jae Hak Lee) Professor Minyang Yang from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and his team developed a high-energy, flexible micro-supercapacitor in a simple and cost-effective way. Compared to conventional micro-batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries, these new batteries, also called supercapacitors, are significantly faster to charge and semi-permanent. Thin, flexible micro-supercapacitors can be a power source directly attached to wearable and flexible electronics. However, fabrication of these micro-supercapacitors requires a complex patterning process, such as lithography techniques and vacuum evaporation. Hence, the process requires expensive instruments and toxic chemicals. To simplify the fabrication of micro-supercapacitors in an eco-friendly manner, the team developed laser growth sintering technology. This technology manufactures superporous silver electrodes and applies them to the supercapacitors’ electrodes. The team used a laser to form micro-patterns and generated nanoporous structures inside. This laser-induced growth sintering contributed to shortening the manufacturing process from ten steps to one. Moreover, the team explored this unique laser growth sintering process –nucleation, growth, and sintering –by employing a particle-free, organometallic solution, which is not costly compared to typical laser-sintering methods for metallic nanoparticle solutions used in the printing of micro-electrodes. Finally, unlike the typical supercapacitors comprised of a single substance, the team applied an asymmetric electrode configuration of nanoporous gold and manganese dioxide, which exhibits a highly-specific capacitance, to operate at a high voltage. This method allows the team to develop energy storage with a high capacity. This developed micro-supercapacitor only requires four seconds to be charged and passed more than 5,000 durability tests. Professor Yang said, “This research outcome can be used as energy storage installed in wearable and flexible electronic devices. Through this research, we are one step closer to realizing a complete version of flexible electronic devices by incorporating a power supply.” This research, led by PhD candidate Jae Hak Lee, was selected as the cover of Journal of Materials Chemistry A on December 21, 2017. Figure 1. Cover of the Journal Materials Chemistry A Figure 2. Manufactured micro-supercapacitor and its performance Figure 3. Laser growth sintering mechanism Figure 4. Structural change of the silver conductor according to the irradiated laser energy
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