New Material Supercharges Electrostatic Energy Storage – 19x Energy Density

Capacitor Energy Storage Technology Art

Research has produced a ferroelectric capacitor with 19 times the energy density of current models and over 90% efficiency, using novel 2D/3D/2D heterostructures. Credit:

Scientists have developed a new method to control the relaxation time of ferroelectric capacitors using 2D materials, significantly enhancing their energy storage capabilities. This innovation has led to a structure that improves energy density and efficiency, promising advancements in high-power electronics and sustainable technologies.

Electrostatic capacitors play a crucial role in modern electronics. They enable ultrafast charging and discharging, providing energy storage and power for devices ranging from smartphones, laptops, and routers to medical devices, automotive electronics, and industrial equipment. However, the ferroelectric materials used in capacitors have significant energy loss due to their material properties, making it difficult to provide high energy storage capability.

Innovations in Ferroelectric Capacitors

Sang-Hoon Bae, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and materials science in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, has addressed this long-standing challenge in deploying ferroelectric materials for energy storage applications.

In a study published today (April 18) in the journal Science, Bae and his collaborators, including Rohan Mishra, associate professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, and Chuan Wang, associate professor of electrical & systems engineering, both at WashU, and Frances Ross, the TDK Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, introduced an approach to control the relaxation time – an internal material property that describes how long it takes for charge to dissipate or decay – of ferroelectric capacitors using 2D materials.

Developing Novel Heterostructures

Working with Bae, doctoral student Justin S. Kim and postdoctoral researcher Sangmoon Han developed novel 2D/3D/2D heterostructures that can minimize energy loss while preserving the advantageous material properties of ferroelectric 3D materials.

Their approach cleverly sandwiches 2D and 3D materials in atomically thin layers with carefully engineered chemical and nonchemical bonds between each layer. A very thin 3D core is inserted between two outer 2D layers to create a stack only about 30 nanometers thick. That’s about one-tenth the size of an average virus particle.

Breakthrough in Energy Storage

“We created a new structure based on the innovations we’ve already made in my lab involving 2D materials,” Bae said. “Initially, we weren’t focused on energy storage, but during our exploration of material properties, we found a new physical phenomenon that we realized could be applied to energy storage, and that was both very interesting and potentially much more useful.”

The 2D/3D/2D heterostructures are finely crafted to sit in the sweet spot between conductivity and nonconductivity where semiconducting materials have optimal electric properties for energy storage. With this design, Bae and his collaborators reported an energy density up to 19 times higher than commercially available ferroelectric capacitors, and they achieved an efficiency of over 90%, which is also unprecedented.

Impact on Next-Generation Electronics

“We found that dielectric relaxation time can be modulated or induced by a very small gap in the material structure,” Bae explained. “That new physical phenomenon is something we hadn’t seen before. It enables us to manipulate dielectric material in such a way that it doesn’t polarize and lose charge capability.”

As the world grapples with the imperative of transitioning toward next-generation electronics components, Bae’s novel heterostructure material paves the way for high-performance electronic devices, encompassing high-power electronics, high-frequency wireless communication systems, and integrated circuit chips. These advancements are particularly crucial in sectors requiring robust power management solutions, such as electric vehicles and infrastructure development.

Future Directions and Applications

“Fundamentally, this structure we’ve developed is a novel electronic material,” Bae said. “We’re not yet 100% optimal, but already we’re outperforming what other labs are doing. Our next steps will be to make this material structure even better, so we can meet the need for ultrafast charging and discharging and very high energy densities in capacitors. We must be able to do that without losing storage capacity over repeated charges to see this material used broadly in large electronics, like electric vehicles, and other developing green technologies.”

Reference: “High energy density in artificial heterostructures through relaxation time modulation” by Sangmoon Han, Justin S. Kim, Eugene Park, Yuan Meng, Zhihao Xu, Alexandre C. Foucher, Gwan Yeong Jung, Ilpyo Roh, Sangho Lee, Sun Ok Kim, Ji-Yun Moon, Seung-Il Kim, Sanggeun Bae, Xinyuan Zhang, Bo-In Park, Seunghwan Seo, Yimeng Li, Heechang Shin, Kate Reidy, Anh Tuan Hoang, Suresh Sundaram, Phuong Vuong, Chansoo Kim, Junyi Zhao, Jinyeon Hwang, Chuan Wang, Hyungil Choi, Dong-Hwan Kim, Jimin Kwon, Jin-Hong Park, Abdallah Ougazzaden, Jae-Hyun Lee, Jong-Hyun Ahn, Jeehwan Kim, Rohan Mishra, Hyung-Seok Kim, Frances M. Ross and Sang-Hoon Bae, 18 April 2024, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.adl2835

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (2240995, DMR-2122070 and DMR-2145797), Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (IO221219-04250-01), the Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology (P0017305), the National Research Foundation of Korea (2015R1A3A2066337), and the Army Research Office’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (W911NF-21-1-0327). This work used computational resources through allocation DMR160007 from the Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Coordination Ecosystem: Services & Support (ACCESS) program, which is supported by NSF.

4 Comments on "New Material Supercharges Electrostatic Energy Storage – 19x Energy Density"

  1. The article hints to, without directly saying so, that capacitors can store as much energy as batteries without losing their other advantages. Fast charge/discharge cycle, no conversion from electric to chemical energy and vice versa, higher energy transfer efficiency and a longer life span. They also handle higher voltage and current better. Their ability to charge quickly not only saves time, but also allow photovoltaic cell to yield optimal power per square foot. Definitely a breakthrough for the electric vehicle industry, which will curb the need to mine more Lithium for batteries.

  2. Steve Nordquist | April 21, 2024 at 10:06 pm | Reply

    191 J/cc is great! Bunches of these researchers are from Washington U
    in St. Louis and the rest hail from MIT and a wide distribution of Korean Universities…also Ga Tech via CNRS France? Here’s hoping running the materials generation is reasonable.

    See also the Patent application in the Author info c.f. Washington U. To get your license hustle on?

  3. That’s all well and good, just as any run-of-the-mill “breakthrough discovery” featured on these pages…

    … the problem is that at the bottom of the article they say that this tech is still very far from robustness and reliability needed to enter the market. So, don’t hold your breath.

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