New electrical energy storage material shows its power
A powerful new material developed by Northwestern University chemist William Dichtel and his research team could one day speed up the charging process of electric cars and help increase their driving range.
An electric car currently relies on a complex interplay of both batteries and supercapacitors to provide the energy it needs to go places, but that could change.
“Our material combines the best of both worlds — the ability to store large amounts of electrical energy or charge, like a battery, and the ability to charge and discharge rapidly, like a supercapacitor,” said Dichtel, a pioneer in the young research field of covalent organic frameworks (COFs).
Dichtel and his research team have combined a COF — a strong, stiff polymer with an abundance of tiny pores suitable for storing energy — with a very conductive material to create the first modified redox-active COF that closes the gap with other older porous carbon-based electrodes.
“COFs are beautiful structures with a lot of promise, but their conductivity is limited,” Dichtel said. “That’s the problem we are addressing here. By modifying them — by adding the attribute they lack — we can start to use COFs in a practical way.”
And modified COFs are commercially attractive: COFs are made of inexpensive, readily available materials, while carbon-based materials are expensive to process and mass-produce.
Dichtel, the Robert L. Letsinger Professor of Chemistry at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is presenting his team’s findings today (Aug. 24) at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in Philadelphia. Also today, a paper by Dichtel and co-authors from Northwestern and Cornell University was published by the journal ACS Central Science.
To demonstrate the new material’s capabilities, the researchers built a coin-cell battery prototype device capable of powering a light-emitting diode for 30 seconds.