Scientists Invent Self-Healing Supercapacitors

Wearable electronics of the future could be powered by self-healing capacitors developed at NTU, which retain up to 85 percent of their electrical performance even after being cut five times.

AsianScientist (Jun 16, 2014) – A team led by Dr. Chen Xiaodong from Nanyang Technological University has managed to create a supercapacitor that can recover after being cut multiple times. A world’s first, these findings have been published in Advanced Materials.

This technology will facilitate the development of flexible and wearable electronics which must be able to endure repeated damage due to constant movement by the user without loss in performance.

To design a self-healing supercapacitor, an energy storage device similar to batteries, the group added an electrically conductive self-healing layer on top of a layer of current-collecting film which acted as the electrode. Whenever it was cut and re-joined, the self-healing layer acted as a glue, bringing the current-collecting film back into firm contact, thereby re-establishing current flow and restoring performance. The device was shown to work after five rounds of cutting and re-joining, with only a 15 percent loss in performance.

Self-healing technology is not entirely new; scientists have previously managed to make a conducting self-healing substrate employing inorganic nanowires dispersed in a self-healing polymer. This is the first time, however, that a conducting self-healing substrate managed to be built on a supercapacitor, resulting in a device which could recover mechanically and electrically with just a gentle five minute pinch.

“This work may open new opportunities for the design and fabrication of various next-generation autonomous electronic devices with the capability of self-sensing, self-reporting, and self-healing,” says Dr. Chen.

The article can be found at: Wang et al. (2014) A Mechanically and Electrically Self-Healing Supercapacitor.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Andy Armstrong/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Chandra is an editor working at World Scientific Publishing. He has a PhD in biomaterials engineering.

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