A combination of two ordinary materials – graphite and water – could produce energy storage systems that perform on par with lithium ion batteries, but recharge in a matter of seconds and have an almost indefinite lifespan.
“The technique is very simple and can easily be scaled up. When we discovered it, we thought it was unbelievable. We’re taking two basic, inexpensive materials – water and graphite – and making this new nanomaterial with amazing properties,” said Dr Li.
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Li and his colleagues believe that because chemically derived graphene sheets are corrugated, the contact area between two sheets is much lower than if they were perfectly flat. In addition, the hydration of graphene generates repulsive forces strong enough to keep the graphene sheets well separated. The high specific surface area of the graphene sheets can therefore be harnessed effectively in a film form suitable for integration into various devices.