Certain electronics can twist, bend and stretch. Their applications range from biomedical gadgets and wearable displays to soft robots. These devices’ circuits have become even more pliable; however, the supercapacitors and batteries that power them remain rigid.
Researchers recently developed a flexible supercapacitor with wrinkled titanium carbide electrodes, a sort of MXene nanomaterial. The novel Supercapacitor maintains storage capacity and releases electronic charges after repeated stretching, potentially boosting the Nanomaterials Market.
The primary problem with stretchable electronics that needs to be resolved is the rigid and stiff nature of the energy storage components, supercapacitors, and batteries. Supercapacitors employ electrodes called MXenes, which are made from transitional metal nitrides, carbides, and carbonitrides. It was noted that they have favorable electrical properties for flexible devices like quick charging and discharging. Furthermore, 2D MXenes make up multi-layered nanosheets, due to which an enormous surface area is formed to facilitate energy storage which is used in electrodes.
In previous research, polymers and other nanomaterials were incorporated to prevent electrodes from breaking as they were bent, twisted or stretched. However, the negative aspect of the incorporation was that the electrical storage capacity of electrodes was also reduced. Thus, the team in the present research thought of deforming the new titanium carbide MXene film into accordion-like ridges that would help maintain the electrical properties of the electrode while also allowing it to be flexible and stretchable as a supercapacitor.
So, the team went on to disintegrate titanium aluminum carbide powder into flakes through hydrofluoric acid. After that, they trapped layers of pure titanium carbide nanosheets as a film with rough texture on a filter. In the end, they positioned the film on a piece of pre-stretched acrylic elastomer that was around 800% its relaxed size. Once the team released the polymer, they evidenced that it shrunk to its original state, and the nanosheets adhered to the polymers crumpled to form accordion-like wrinkles.
At initial stages, the team discovered the perfect electrode consisted of a three µm-thick film that can be continuously stretched and relaxed without breaking and without changing its capacity to store an electrical charge. The team, through this material, created a supercapacitor by putting a polyvinyl(alcohol)-sulfuric acid gel electrolyte between two stretchable titanium carbide electrodes like a sandwich.
The team noted that the device had good energy capacity comparable to MXene-based supercapacitors built by previous researchers. In addition, the device also had an extreme stretchability of about 800% without any incidents of nanosheets cracking. Moreover, it was also able to maintain 90% of its energy storage capacity even when it had been 1,000 times stretched or after being twisted or bent. The researchers stated that their newly developed Supercapacitor’s electrical stability and excellent energy storage are attractive options for stretchable wearable electronic systems and storage devices.
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