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Flexible battery, no lithium required

A thin-film energy storage device, seen attached to a polymer backing, retains its battery- and supercapacitor-like qualities even after being flexed 1,000 times, according to tests at Rice Univ. The device shows potential for flexible and wearable electronics. Image: Jeff Fitlow/Rice Univ. A thin-film energy storage device, seen attached to a polymer backing, retains its battery- and supercapacitor-like qualities even after being flexed 1,000 times, according to tests at Rice Univ. The device shows potential for flexible and wearable electronics. Image: Jeff Fitlow/Rice Univ. A Rice Univ. laboratory has flexible, portable and wearable electronics in its sights with the creation of a thin film for energy storage.

Rice chemist James Tour and his colleagues have developed a flexible material with nanoporous nickel-fluoride electrodes layered around a solid electrolyte to deliver battery-like supercapacitor performance that combines the best qualities of a high-energy battery and a high-powered supercapacitor without the lithium found in commercial batteries today.

The new work by the Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour is detailed in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Their electrochemical capacitor is about a hundredth of an inch thick but can be scaled up for devices either by increasing the size or adding layers, said Rice postdoctoral researcher Yang Yang, co-lead author of the paper with graduate student Gedeng Ruan. They expect that standard manufacturing techniques may allow the battery to be even thinner.

In tests, the students found their square-inch device held 76% of its capacity over 10,000 charge-discharge cycles and 1,000 bending cycles.
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