Inspired by an American fern, researchers have developed a groundbreaking prototype that could be the answer to the storage challenge still holding solar back as a total energy solution.
The new type of electrode created by researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, could boost the capacity of existing integrable storage technologies by 3000 per cent.
But the graphene-based prototype also opens a new path to the development of flexible thin film all-in-one solar capture and storage, bringing us one step closer to self-powering smart phones, laptops, cars and buildings.
The new electrode is designed to work with supercapacitors, which can charge and discharge power much faster than conventional batteries. Supercapacitors have been combined with solar, but their wider use as a storage solution is restricted because of their limited capacity.
The new design drew on nature’s own genius solution to the challenge of filling a space in the most efficient way possible – through intricate self-repeating patterns known as “fractals”.
Combined with supercapacitors, the fractal-enabled laser-reduced graphene electrodes can hold the stored charge for longer, with minimal leakage.
The breakthrough electrode prototype can be combined with a solar cell for on-chip energy harvesting and storage.