Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Storing a Lightning Bolt in Glass for Portable Power

01.05.2009
Penn State materials researchers have reported the largest known energy storage capacity for a bulk glass, making it a potential new candidate for capacitors for electric vehicles and portable power applications.

Materials researchers at Penn State University have reported the highest known breakdown strength for a bulk glass ever measured. Breakdown strength, along with dielectric constant, determines how much energy can be stored in an insulating material before it fails and begins to conduct electricity.

A bulk glass with high breakdown strength and high dielectric constant would make an ideal candidate for the next generation of high energy density storage capacitors to power more efficient electric vehicles, as well as other portable and pulsed power applications.

The highest dielectric breakdown strengths for bulk glasses are typically in the 4-9MV/cm range. The breakdown strength for the tested samples were in the 12MV/cm range, which in conjunction with a relatively high permittivity, resulted in energy densities of 35 J/cm3, as compared to a maximum energy density of 10 J/cm3 for polypropylene, the most common dielectric for pulsed power applications.

“For a bulk glass, this is extraordinary,” says Nick Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, who is lead author on the report and performed the testing. Smith used samples of 50 micron-thick commercial glass, which he etched for testing with hydrofluoric acid until the samples were only 10-20 microns thick. The resulting glass was so thin it could be flexed like a piece of plastic film, yet so delicate it could easily disintegrate if mishandled. The thinner the glass, the more electric field can be applied before failure.

The etched glass was placed in a polymer fluid for testing and up to 30,000 volts were applied. When the breakdown point was reached, electricity began to flow through the glass suddenly, with a flash and a bang that resembles a lightning bolt conducting through air. The polymer fluid was used to contain the lightning. In each case, failure occurred within 40 to 80 seconds.

The bulk glass tested is an alkali-free barium boroaluminosilicate glass produced in large quantities for flat panel displays and microelectronics packaging. Its high energy storage capability is attributed to the highly polarizable barium atoms, which contribute to the enhanced permittivity, and the alkali-free composition, which inhibits energy loss. Also a factor is the nearly defect-free quality of the glass. The specific process used to manufacture this glass yields a more flaw-free material, especially at the surface, which further enhances resistance to breakdown. Sheets of 30-micron-thick glass, which are expected to be available commercially in the near future, are likely to have even higher breakdown strength than the etched glass due to an even more uniform flaw-free surface. “This opens a potentially new market for glass,” says Smith. “We are always looking for new functionalities in glass. Ideally, manufacturing will get to a point where they can make any size sheet they need for any size capacitor.”

Contributing author Michael Lanagan points out that engineering challenges remain as they scale up from the small size glass capacitors tested to those ready for commercial production. “We’ll lose some of the energy density as we increase in volume," he says, “but we should still end up with some remarkable capacitance.”

A paper reporting their results, titled “Glass as a High Energy Density Dielectric Material,” is currently available online and in the June 2009 edition of Materials Letters. In addition to Smith, the authors are graduate student Badri Rangarajan, engineering science and mechanics, Michael T. Lanagan, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, and Carlo G. Pantano, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering.

This research was supported by the Office of Naval Research, the Pennsylvania State University Materials Research Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Center for Optical Technologies, and Bayer MaterialScience LLC.

The Materials Research Institute coordinates the research of more than 200 materials scientists at Penn State. The Millennium Science Complex, now under construction, is a $225M facility for materials and life sciences research scheduled to open at University Park in summer 2011.

Nicholas J Smith | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu
http://www.mri.psu.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet
18.08.2017 | Aalto University

nachricht Superconductivity research reveals potential new state of matter
17.08.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>