Monolithic Carbide-Derived Carbon Films for Micro-Supercapacitors

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Science  23 Apr 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5977, pp. 480-483
DOI: 10.1126/science.1184126

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Microcapacitors for Manufacture

Capacitors can store small amounts of charge, and as they can charge and discharge quickly, they work well with batteries for recovering power, such as in regenerative braking in hybrid cars. For very small power requirements, capacitors have not been competitive with microbatteries, but using monolithic carbon films to store the charge, Chmiola et al. (p. 480) demonstrate the feasibility of such applications. The small pores in the carbon films are sufficiently large to allow electrolyte transport and can be made using a processing technique compatible with current chip manufacturing. Such microcapacitors can thus be integrated with electronics to make autonomous sensors or implantable devices.


Microbatteries with dimensions of tens to hundreds of micrometers that are produced by common microfabrication techniques are poised to provide integration of power sources onto electronic devices, but they still suffer from poor cycle lifetime, as well as power and temperature range of operation issues that are alleviated with the use of supercapacitors. There have been a few reports on thin-film and other micro-supercapacitors, but they are either too thin to provide sufficient energy or the technology is not scalable. By etching supercapacitor electrodes into conductive titanium carbide substrates, we demonstrate that monolithic carbon films lead to a volumetric capacity exceeding that of micro- and macroscale supercapacitors reported thus far, by a factor of 2. This study also provides the framework for integration of high-performance micro-supercapacitors onto a variety of devices.

  • * Present address: Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.

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