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Graphene hybrid supercapacitors instead of batteries

A team led by Roland Fischer, Professor of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has succeeded in developing a highly efficient supercapacitor. The energy storage system is based on a new, high-performance and sustainable graphene hybrid material that has performance data that is comparable to that of the batteries and accumulators currently in use.

Energy storage is usually associated with batteries and accumulators that provide energy for electronic devices. However, in addition to batteries, more and more so-called supercapacitors are now being installed in laptops, cameras, cell phones and vehicles.

Unlike batteries, they can store large amounts of energy very quickly and release them again just as quickly. For example, if a train brakes when entering the station, supercapacitors store the power and make it available again when the train needs a lot of energy very quickly when it starts.

However, a problem with supercapacitors so far has been their low energy density. While lithium-ion batteries achieve an energy density of up to 265 watt hours per kilogram (Wh / kg), previous supercapacitors only provide a tenth of that.

Graphs for top performance

Now a team led by TUM chemist Roland Fischer has developed a new, high-performance and sustainable graphene hybrid material for supercapacitors. It serves as a positive electrode in the energy store. The researchers combined it with an already proven, titanium and carbon-based negative electrode.

The new energy storage not only achieves an energy density of up to 73 Wh / kg, which roughly corresponds to the energy density of a nickel-metal hydride battery, but with its power density of 16 kW / kg it also delivers significantly more than most other supercapacitors. The secret of the new supercapacitor is the combination of different materials - this is why chemists call the supercapacitor “asymmetrical”.

Graphene hybrid materials: nature is the model

The researchers are using a new strategy to overcome the performance limits of common materials, so-called hybrid materials.

"Nature is full of highly complex, evolutionarily optimized hybrid materials - bones and teeth are examples of this, and nature has optimized their mechanical properties such as hardness or elasticity by combining different materials."

Roland Fischer, Professor of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry at the Technical University of Munich (TUM)

The research team applied the abstract idea of ​​combining base materials to supercapacitors. They used chemically modified graphene as the basis of the new positive electrode of the memory and combined it with a nanostructured metal-organic framework, a so-called metal organic framework (MOF).

Powerful and stable

Decisive for the performance of graphene hybrids are on the one hand a large specific surface and controllable pore sizes, on the other hand a high electrical conductivity. “The high performance of the material is based on the combination of the microporous MOF with the conductive graphene acid,” explains first author Jayaramulu Kolleboyina, a former guest scientist at Roland Fischer.

A large surface area is important for good supercapacitors, where a correspondingly large number of charge carriers can accumulate within a material - this is the basic principle of storing electrical energy.

The researchers succeeded in chemically linking the graphenic acid with the MOFs through clever material design. The resulting hybrid MOFs have very large internal surfaces of up to 900 square meters per gram and are extremely powerful as a positive electrode in a supercapacitor.


But that's not the only advantage of the new material. If you want a chemically stable hybrid, you need strong bonds between the components. The bonds are the same as those between amino acids in proteins, says Fischer: "In fact, we have linked the graphene acid with a MOF amine - this creates a kind of peptide bond."

The stable connection between the nanostructured components has great advantages in terms of the long-term stability of the capacitors: the more stable a connection is, the more charge and discharge cycles are possible without significantly sacrificing performance.

For comparison: a classic lithium-ion battery has a service life of approx. 5000 cycles, the new cell from the TUM researchers retains almost 90 percent of its capacity even after 10,000 cycles.

International network of experts

Fischer emphasizes the importance of unhindered international cooperation, which the researchers themselves designed, in the development of the new supercapacitor. The team built Jayaramulu Kolleboyina, an Indian guest scientist who was invited by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and who is now head of the chemistry department at the newly founded Indian Institute of Technology in Jammu.

“Our team has also networked with experts in electrochemistry and battery research in Barcelona and with graphene derivative specialists from the Czech Republic,” says Fischer. “In addition, partners from the USA and Australia are also involved. This great international cooperation lets us expect a lot more. "


Jayaramulu Kolleboyina, Michael Horn, Andreas Schneemann, Aristides Bakandritsos, Vaclav Ranc, Martin Petr, Vitalie Stavila, Chandrabhas Narayana, Błażej Scheibe, Štěpán Kment, Michal Otyepka, Nunzio Motta, Deepak Dubal, Radek Zboril and Roland A. Fischer.

Covalent Graphene-MOF Hybrids for High Performance Asymmetric Supercapacitors.

Advanced Materials, December 4th, 2020 - DOI: 10.1002 / adma.202004560

Category: Research, News, Publication Tags: battery research, graphene, organometallic, supercapacitor, TUM