If you've ever used a smartphone and complained about the battery life, you've experienced one of the limiting factors on gadget design. Supercapacitors, which store charge rather than generate current with a chemical reaction the way batteries do, might offer a solution, but they tend to be bulkier than batteries and store less energy in the same size.
But now a team of scientists thinks they may have found a way to create a compact, graphene-based super capacitor that lasts as long as a battery. Graphene, which is a single layer of carbon molecules, could lead to lightweight supercapacitors for electric cars and supplement traditional batteries both in electronic devices and renewable power systems. The study, lead by Dan Li of Australia's Monash University, is detailed in the Aug. 1 issue of Science.
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At its basic structure, a classic capacitor is comprised of two plates, usually metal, separated by some other material, sometimes a solution or simply air. When a charge is applied, electrons gathers on the surface of the plates but are limited by the plate's total surface area. Add more plates, gets more charge capacity.