Polymer Electric Storage

A team of materials scientists led by Qing Wang, associate Professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State, is currently developing ferroelectric polymer-based capacitors that can deliver power more rapidly than conventional batteries. The polymer, with the addition of chlorotrifluoroethylene (a material commonly used as a refrigerant in cryogenic applications) had a very high dielectric permittivity (the degree to which a medium resists the flow of electric charge) at room temperature, producing a composite material with a large energy storage capacity.




Qing Wang (Credit:Penn State) 
Qing Wang
(Credit:Penn State)

Because ceramics often have higher permittivities than the polymers, in a further modification of the ferroelectric polymer, the researchers added nanoparticulate ceramics to further improve the energy density. The process of mixing nanoparticles of ceramic with polymers is not simple, as the ceramic particles tend to clump and aggregate. If the two materials do not have matching electrical properties, their interface will break down at high electric fields and the ability of the composite to store energy will decrease rather than increase. 

Wang and his team fine added functionalized groups to the materials to match the dielectric particles to the polymer matrix. Wang said, “Matching the permittivity and uniformly dispersing the ceramic nanoparticles is not easy. Both problems have to be tackled and solved at the same time for the material to have the desired characteristics.” 

TFOT recently covered a virus powered batteries created by researchers from MIT as well as conducting plastics developed by researchers from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands which could lead to a whole new way of making electronics. 

More about Wang’s polymer can be found on the University of Penn State website.