Scientists at the University of Central Florida have developed a new process for creating flexible supercapacitors that can charged in seconds and can be recharged more than 30,000 times without degrading.

The possibility of using supercapacitors to enhance or even replace batteries has been studied for a long time. The difficulty has been that a supercapacitor that holds as much energy as a lithium-ion battery would have to be very much larger.

The researchers at the University of Central Florida have applied newly discovered two-dimensional materials, only a few atoms thick, to supercapacitors. It was already known that two-dimensional materials held great promise for energy storage applications but no way was known to realize that potential.

The new supercapacitors are composed of millions of nanometer-thick wires coated with shells of these two-dimensional materials. A highly conductive core facilitates fast electron transfer for fast charging and discharging. Uniformly coated shells of this two-dimensional material yield high energy and power densities.

For small electronic devices, the new supercapacitors surpass conventional storage devices in energy density, power density and the number of times they can be charged, drained and recharged before beginning to degrade. For example, a lithium-ion battery can be recharged fewer than 1,500 times without significant failure whereas the supercapacitors with the two-dimensional materials don’t degrade even after they have been been recharged 30,000 times. A phone equipped with one of the supercapaciors could be charged in seconds and store enough energy to operate for a week.

Supercapacitors that use the new materials have great potential for use in electric vehicles which could benefit from sudden bursts of power and speed, as well as in phones and other electronic devices.