Battery breakthrough: scientists use a DVD burner to create graphene supercapacitors

by: Mike AndriciApril 2, 2012


When it comes to the raw computing power they are able to harness, smartphones have definitely come a long way over the last few years. While the software was able (to a certain extent) to keep up with the hardware advancements, one very important smartphone component is basically the same as it was when the first smartphones started rolling out: the battery.

A pain in a very sensitive place for both manufacturers and users, Li-Ion batteries take up more space than all other components but are still unable to provide decent autonomy. Although you can always make them bigger (as seen on the Droid RAZR Maxx or the new iPad), you can only go up to certain point before design will suffer.

Fortunately, it looks like a team of researchers led by UCLA’s Richard Kaner was able to create graphene supercapacitors that are able to discharge three times more watts per cm3 when compared to current lithium-ion batteries.

graphene supercapacitors

The most interesting part is that the researchers were able to produce these graphene supercapacitors with a simple LightScribe DVD writer, priced at only $50. It turns out that if you put a graphite oxide film on a blank DVD, you can then use the laser inside a DVD burner to turn the graphite oxide into graphene, the most conductive material known to man. Use a couple of slices of graphene, place an electrolyte in the middle, and the end result will be a supercapacitor. I’m not sure you should try this at home if you’re not a world renowned scientist, though.

The laser scribed graphene (LSG) has a number of very interesting physical properties. You can find them all here, but it’s worth mentioning that the LSG supercapacitor is highly flexible, should provide up to three times the autonomy of a Li-Ion battery and suffers no degradation over 1000 discharge cycles. So far, we have no idea when this technology will become available, but is sure seems promising.

  • Bob

    now thats what im talkin about! more battery life!!

  • Brianepatt85

    Yes! Can’t wait. I read a article on here several months back talking about a battery that takes like 20 min to charge and will last twice as long as current batteries.

    Yeah super cool tho. Any mews on batterys for phones is good news. They can’t go anywhere but up.

  • Graham Laight

    Not just portable computers – but cars as well. Battery improvement cannot come too soon!

  • Yes, better batteries will be fabulous for Android devices, and an uncountable number of other things ranging from hearing aids, headsets, medical aids and up to automobiles. What I would also like to see is more Android deivces where the battery can be changed by the user too. It is a shame that these great devices are looked upon as being disposable. I know that I want to try to change the battery in my Archos 43 when it dies and think my chace of success should be good as I have fairly good tech savy. If someone wants to send me an appropriately sized graphene supercapacitor, I would be only too happy to test it ;)

  • Fred from Leeds UK.

    Once the boffins crack the problem of storing electrical energy in some form of battery/supercapacitor, i.e. one that stores the huge amount of energy required to propel a car as good as petrol/diesel over a few hundred miles, there will be an unprecedented shift in world politics — as big as the one when coal and steam gave way to oil and the i.c. engine.
    I’m sure the western politicians are aware of this, and we could see all the problems over the middle east and their oil vanish into the trash-can of history. Of course we will need nuclear powered generating stations to enable this. Unless we make carbon capture work efficiently and economically — then we will be back to coal again!
    Fred from Leeds, UK.