A NANOTECHNOLOGY scientist in the Florida has developed a way to enhance cable copper cables to both transmit and store electricity.
Hailing from the University of Central Florida's NanoScience Technology Center, Nanotechnology scientist and professor Jayan Thomas and his Ph.D student Zenan Yu started the process by coating a copper wire with copper oxide. They grew a layer of electrochemically active copper oxide nanowhiskers over the copper wire.
This layer of nanowhiskers was treated with a special alloy, creating an electrode. For the second electrode needed for energy storage, Thomas and Yu added a thin plastic sheet around the whiskers, then surrounded the polymer layer with a nanowire-coated copper coil.
Effectively, the researchers created a supercapacitor on the outside of the copper wire. The insulated layers allow the copper wire to continue conducting electricity, while the layers around the wire independently store energy.
This same technique should be transferable to other types of materials. For example, fibre optics could deliver both high speed data and store energy.
The technology may be applied to the design and development of electrical vehicles, space-launch vehicles and portable electronic devices. By being able to store and conduct energy on the same wire, heavy, space-consuming batteries could become a thing of the past.