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September 17th, 2008
Nanoscale meadows of grass and flowers could hold the key to increasing the amount of energy that can be stored in ultracapacitors, devices tipped to replace batteries in high-demand applications like electric cars.
Batteries are slow to recharge because they store energy chemically. By contrast, capacitors, which are common in electronics, are short-term stores of electrical energy that charge almost instantaneously but hold little energy.
In recent years capacitors able to store thousands of times as much energy as standard ones, called ultracapacitors, have been developed, leading experts to suggest they could power future devices and even electric cars.
First however, their energy storage capacity needs to improve further. Chinese researchers have just reported a new approach to doing that which could see them become practical.
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