Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Storing a Lightning Bolt in Glass for Portable Power

Abstract:
Penn State materials researchers have reported the largest known energy storage capacity for a bulk glass, making it a potential new candidate for capacitors for electric vehicles and portable power applications.

Storing a Lightning Bolt in Glass for Portable Power

University Park, PA | Posted on May 1st, 2009

Materials researchers at Penn State University have reported the highest known breakdown strength for a bulk glass ever measured. Breakdown strength, along with dielectric constant, determines how much energy can be stored in an insulating material before it fails and begins to conduct electricity. A bulk glass with high breakdown strength and high dielectric constant would make an ideal candidate for the next generation of high energy density storage capacitors to power more efficient electric vehicles, as well as other portable and pulsed power applications.

The highest dielectric breakdown strengths for bulk glasses are typically in the 4-9MV/cm range. The breakdown strength for the tested samples were in the 12MV/cm range, which in conjunction with a relatively high permittivity, resulted in energy densities of 35 J/cm3, as compared to a maximum energy density of 10 J/cm3 for polypropylene, the most common dielectric for pulsed power applications.

"For a bulk glass, this is extraordinary," says Nick Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, who is lead author on the report and performed the testing. Smith used samples of 50 micron-thick commercial glass, which he etched for testing with hydrofluoric acid until the samples were only 10-20 microns thick. The resulting glass was so thin it could be flexed like a piece of plastic film, yet so delicate it could easily disintegrate if mishandled. The thinner the glass, the more electric field can be applied before failure.

The etched glass was placed in a polymer fluid for testing and up to 30,000 volts were applied. When the breakdown point was reached, electricity began to flow through the glass suddenly, with a flash and a bang that resembles a lightning bolt conducting through air. The polymer fluid was used to contain the lightning. In each case, failure occurred within 40 to 80 seconds.

The bulk glass tested is an alkali-free barium boroaluminosilicate glass produced in large quantities for flat panel displays and microelectronics packaging. Its high energy storage capability is attributed to the highly polarizable barium atoms, which contribute to the enhanced permittivity, and the alkali-free composition, which inhibits energy loss. Also a factor is the nearly defect-free quality of the glass. The specific process used to manufacture this glass yields a more flaw-free material, especially at the surface, which further enhances resistance to breakdown. Sheets of 30-micron-thick glass, which are expected to be available commercially in the near future, are likely to have even higher breakdown strength than the etched glass due to an even more uniform flaw-free surface. "This opens a potentially new market for glass," says Smith. "We are always looking for new functionalities in glass. Ideally, manufacturing will get to a point where they can make any size sheet they need for any size capacitor."

Contributing author Michael Lanagan points out that engineering challenges remain as they scale up from the small size glass capacitors tested to those ready for commercial production. "We'll lose some of the energy density as we increase in volume," he says, "but we should still end up with some remarkable capacitance."

A paper reporting their results, titled "Glass as a High Energy Density Dielectric Material," is currently available online and in the June 2009 edition of Materials Letters. In addition to Smith, the authors are graduate student Badri Rangarajan, engineering science and mechanics, Michael T. Lanagan, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, and Carlo G. Pantano, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering.

This research was supported by the Office of Naval Research, the Pennsylvania State University Materials Research Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Center for Optical Technologies, and Bayer MaterialScience LLC.

####

About Penn State Materials Research Institute
The Materials Research Institute coordinates the research of more than 200 materials scientists at Penn State. The Millennium Science Complex, now under construction, is a $225M facility for materials and life sciences research scheduled to open at University Park in summer 2011.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Nicholas J Smith


Michael Lanagan

(814) 865-6992

Copyright © Newswise

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Gene therapy relieves back pain, repairs damaged disc in mice: Study suggests nanocarriers loaded with DNA could replace opioids May 17th, 2024

Shedding light on perovskite hydrides using a new deposition technique: Researchers develop a methodology to grow single-crystal perovskite hydrides, enabling accurate hydride conductivity measurements May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Discoveries

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Advances in priming B cell immunity against HIV pave the way to future HIV vaccines, shows quartet of new studies May 17th, 2024

Announcements

Virginia Tech physicists propose path to faster, more flexible robots: Virginia Tech physicists revealed a microscopic phenomenon that could greatly improve the performance of soft devices, such as agile flexible robots or microscopic capsules for drug delivery May 17th, 2024

Diamond glitter: A play of colors with artificial DNA crystals May 17th, 2024

Finding quantum order in chaos May 17th, 2024

Oscillating paramagnetic Meissner effect and Berezinskii-Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in cuprate superconductor May 17th, 2024

Automotive/Transportation

Researchers’ approach may protect quantum computers from attacks March 8th, 2024

New designs for solid-state electrolytes may soon revolutionize the battery industry: Scientists achieve monumental improvements in lithium-metal-chloride solid-state electrolytes November 3rd, 2023

Previously unknown pathway to batteries with high energy, low cost and long life: Newly discovered reaction mechanism overcomes rapid performance decline in lithium-sulfur batteries September 8th, 2023

Tests find no free-standing nanotubes released from tire tread wear September 8th, 2023

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

What heat can tell us about battery chemistry: using the Peltier effect to study lithium-ion cells March 8th, 2024

Two-dimensional bimetallic selenium-containing metal-organic frameworks and their calcinated derivatives as electrocatalysts for overall water splitting March 8th, 2024

Discovery of new Li ion conductor unlocks new direction for sustainable batteries: University of Liverpool researchers have discovered a new solid material that rapidly conducts lithium ions February 16th, 2024

A battery’s hopping ions remember where they’ve been: Seen in atomic detail, the seemingly smooth flow of ions through a battery’s electrolyte is surprisingly complicated February 16th, 2024

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project