Capacitors are like batteries in that they store and release energy. However, capacitors use separated electrical charges, rather than chemical reactions, to store energy. The charged particles enable energy to be stored and released very quickly.
Imagine an electric vehicle that can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour at the same rate as a gasoline-powered sports car. There are no batteries that can power that type of acceleration because they release their energy too slowly. Capacitors, however, could be up to the job – if they contained the right materials.
NC State physicist Dr. Vivek Ranjan had previously found that capacitors which contained the polymer polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF, in combination with another polymer called CTFE, were able to store up to seven times more energy than those currently in use.
“We knew that this material makes an efficient capacitor, but wanted to understand the mechanism behind its storage capabilities,” Ranjan says.
In research published in Physical Review Letters, Ranjan, fellow NC State physicist Dr. Jerzy Bernholc and Dr. Marco Buongiorno-Nardelli from the University of North Texas, did computer simulations to see how the atomic structure within the polymer changed when an electric field was applied. Applying an electric field to the polymer causes atoms within it to polarize, which enables the capacitor to store and release energy quickly. They found that when an electrical field was applied to the PVDF mixture, the atoms performed a synchronized dance, flipping from a non-polar to a polar state simultaneously, and requiring a very small electrical charge to do so.
“Usually when materials change from a polar to non-polar state it’s a chain reaction – starting in one place and then moving outward,” Ranjan explains. “In terms of creating an efficient capacitor, this type of movement doesn’t work well – it requires a large amount of energy to get the atoms to switch phases, and you don’t get out much more energy than you put into the system.
“In the case of the PVDF mixture, the atoms change their state all at once, which means that you get a large amount of energy out of the system at very little cost in terms of what you need to put into it. Hopefully these findings will bring us even closer to developing capacitors that will give electric vehicles the same acceleration capabilities as gasoline engines.”
Note to editors: An abstract of the paper follows.
“Electric Field Induced Phase Transitions in Polymers: a Novel Mechanism for High Speed Energy Storage”
Authors: V. Ranjan, M. Buongiorno Nardelli and J. Bernholc, Center for High Performance Simulation and Department of Physics, North Carolina State University
Published: Online in Physical Review LettersAbstract:
Tracey Peake | EurekAlert!
Blue phosphorus -- mapped and measured for the first time
16.10.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie
All in the family: Kin of gravitational wave source discovered
16.10.2018 | University of Maryland
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.
Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
17.10.2018 | Event News
16.10.2018 | Event News
02.10.2018 | Event News
17.10.2018 | Trade Fair News
17.10.2018 | Life Sciences
17.10.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science