On-chip and freestanding elastic carbon films for micro-supercapacitors

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Science  12 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6274, pp. 691-695
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3345

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Flexible power for flexible electronics

A challenge for flexible electronics is to couple devices with power sources that are also flexible. Ideally, they could also be processed in a way that is compatible with current microfabrication technologies. Huang et al. deposited a relatively thick layer of TiC on top of an oxide-coated Si film. After chlorination, most, but importantly not all, of the TiC was converted into a porous carbon film that could be turned into an electrochemical capacitor. The carbon films were highly flexible, and the residual TiC acted as a stress buffer with the underlying Si film. The films could be separated from the Si to form free-floating films, with the TiC providing a support layer.

Science, this issue p. 691


Integration of electrochemical capacitors with silicon-based electronics is a major challenge, limiting energy storage on a chip. We describe a wafer-scale process for manufacturing strongly adhering carbide-derived carbon films and interdigitated micro-supercapacitors with embedded titanium carbide current collectors, fully compatible with current microfabrication and silicon-based device technology. Capacitance of those films reaches 410 farads per cubic centimeter/200 millifarads per square centimeter in aqueous electrolyte and 170 farads per cubic centimeter/85 millifarads per square centimeter in organic electrolyte. We also demonstrate preparation of self-supported, mechanically stable, micrometer-thick porous carbon films with a Young’s modulus of 14.5 gigapascals, with the possibility of further transfer onto flexible substrates. These materials are interesting for applications in structural energy storage, tribology, and gas separation.

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