There have been capacitors that are being used in computer mice, but supercapacitors that hold substantially greater charges than regular capacitors have not been useful beyond the application of bridging brief power interruptions so far.
That may change as researchers at UCLA claim to have found a way to increase their energy density and turn them into a viable alternative for batteries. Those new supercapacitors use electrodes built from graphene, a promising high-tech material that already has shown superior mechanical and electrical properties in the past and apparently revealed "excellent electrochemical attributes under high mechanical stress" in the UCLA research, which is published in the current edition of Science.
The scientists claim that their supercapacitors hold just about as much charge as a regular battery, but come with a feature that could transform the way we use gadgets and other battery driven products, such as electric cars. Richard Kaner, professor of chemistry & materials science and engineering, said that these supercapacitors "be charged and discharged a hundred to a thousand times faster" than batteries. Their study even included an explanation how to effectively produce "high-performance" supercapacitors via a solid-state approach that avoids the restacking of graphene sheets.
That process is based on "coating a DVD disc with a film of graphite oxide that is then laser treated inside a LightScribe DVD drive to produce graphene electrodes," the researchers said.