Scientists at MIT's Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems (LEES) have developed a portable power generating technology that could lead to the first economically viable alternative to conventional batteries in more than 200 years.
The research centres on using nano-tube structures to improve on the effectiveness of energy storage devices called 'ultra-capacitors'.
The work is being conducted by Joel E. Schindall, the Bernard Gordon Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), and associate director of the Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems; John G. Kassakian, EECS professor and director of LEES; and Ph.D. candidate Riccardo Signorelli.
The turbocharged capacitors store energy as an electrical field, making them more efficient than standard batteries which derive their energy from chemical reactions.
Ultra-capacitors provide quick bursts of instant energy, and are sometimes used in fuel-cell vehicles to provide extra power for accelerating into traffic and climbing hills.
However, the use of such devices has been hindered because they need to be much larger than normal batteries to hold the same charge.
The LEES ultra-capacitor can overcome this energy limitation by storing electrical fields at the atomic level.
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