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Porous textiles coated with atom-thick sheets of carbon called graphene could underpin cheap and long-lasting energy-storage systems.
Zhenan Bao, Yi Cui and their colleagues at Stanford University in California dipped polyester fibres into a graphene solution and then deposited manganese dioxide onto the resulting structure. They used this as an electrode, combined with another made from carbon-nanotube-coated textiles, in a sodium sulphate solution. The resulting supercapacitor maintained a high level of energy storage and power delivery over 5,000 charge and discharge cycles, which is unusually long-lasting for manganese-dioxide-based electrodes. The fibres' three-dimensional porous structure has a larger surface area than conventional electrodes, enhancing performance.
Moreover, the system is made from abundant and environmentally friendly materials using a scalable process, the researchers say.
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Graphene textiles for energy storage. Nature 475, 269 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/475269e