Researchers at RMIT University in Australia have developed a new type of electrode that can boost solar power storage capacity by 3000%, opening the door to the development of thin-film and flexible solar capture and storage technologies.
Inspired by a plant, this new electrode is designed to function with supercapacitors that can charge and release energy faster than traditional betteries. Combined with solar technologies, this new system will provide a means to self-power mobile devices, cars and even buildings.
According to RMIT professor Min Gu, the new design provides an excellent solution to the challenge of filling a space most efficiently using intricate self-repeating patterns called “fractals”. Basically, it got the concept from the western swordfern, of which leaves are densely crammed with veins that make the plant extremely efficient in storing energy. Explaining how he and his team used such a naturally-efficient design to improve solar power storage at a very small level, Gu said:
“The immediate application is combining this electrode with supercapacitors, as our experiments have shown our prototype can radically increase their storage capacity – 30 times more than current capacity limits. Capacity-boosted supercapacitors would offer both long-term reliability and quick-burst energy release – for when someone wants to use solar energy on a cloudy day for example – making them ideal alternatives for solar power storage.”
PhD researcher Litty Thekkekara also stated that this new system, which is based on flexible thin film technology, will offer countless potential applications. She stated: