It seems like we're constantly hearing about promising battery technologies that could ultimately lead to longer battery life, more power, and smaller units, but as of yet, that big breakthrough hasn't occurred. Maybe nanotechnology, which is the current hot topic in the battery innovations field, will prove to be different.
Right at this moment, a ton of research is being put into carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for a bunch of uses, including electronics and batteries. Researchers are drawn to CNTs because, according to them, carbon nanotubes are near perfect. That has paved the way for a professor and a UC San Diego graduate student to discover a breakthrough that involves introducing purposeful defects into CNT structures. By doing so, the 'defective' CNTs actually work better for the development of super capacitors, DailyTech reports.
"While batteries have large storage capacity, they take a long time to charge; while electrostatic capacitors can charge quickly but typically have limited capacity. However, super capacitors electrochemical capacitors incorporate the advantages of both," Professor Prabhakar Bandaru said.
The duo also discovered that other methods, such as bombarding CNTs with argon or hydrogen, could also increase or decrease the charge capacity. In the end, the two researchers believe that their discovery could ultimately lead to electronics that charge faster and last longer than what's available today.
According to Chinese researchers, sheets made of carbon nanotubes will act like a loudspeaker when charged with a varying electric current. This discovery could lead to a new era of cheap, flat speakers.
Shoushan Fan of the Tsinghua University in Beijing and his team have been working alongside a team of researchers at Beijing Normal University (a name that truly inspires confidence), to create the first speaker sheet by aligning numerous 10-nanometer-diameter carbon nanotubes. When an audio frequency current was sent through the sheet they found that it acted as a loudspeaker. While the reaction causes the sheet to heat up to temperatures of 80°C, it’s expected that consumer use will only cause the sheet to rise slightly above room temperature.
According to Kaili Jiang, a member of Fan’s team, the speakers have a great deal of potential in them for uses that you wouldn’t see from a conventional speaker. The team has found that the flexible sheets can be stretched until they become transparent. They could then be attached to the front of an LCD screen to replace standard speakers. They even mentioned the possibility of singing and speaking jackets.
These days it seems like “nanotube” is sort of a magic word. Scientists will say something crazy like “We’re building an elevator to space” and everyone else asks “How you gonna do that, scientists?” and they just say “carbon nanotubes,” and we’re like “oh, cool.” So go ahead and guess how scientists have created a kind of paper that’s 500 times as strong as steel and only weighs a tenth as much.
That’s right, it’s nanotubes. The paper, called “buckypaper,” is flexible in single sheets, and can be layered to form rigid plates. It’s being rapidly developed for commercial production, for use in everything from armor to laptops to fuel cells.
Ben Wang, one of the professors leading the charge to commercialize buckypaper, explains that the strength of the paper comes from nanotubes’ enormous surface area, saying “If you take a gram of nanotubes, just one gram, and if you unfold every tube into a graphite sheet, you can cover about two-thirds of a football field.”
What do you all think? How might we use this super-strong paper in the future? Hit the jump and let us know.