In 1899 the commissioner of the Patent Office, Charles H. Duell, famously stuck his foot in his mouth when he said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” But his sentiment was in the right place. People often feel that out on the cutting edge of technology there isn’t much further we can go, not enough envelope left to push, especially now in the twenty-first century. I mean we have seen the computer go from taking up rooms to operate simple commands to fitting in the palm of your hand, medicine has progressed at an enormous rate, etc. What else is there? Well, it turns out that researchers at UCLA may have just made a game changing break through in capacitor and battery production.
It seems that researches in Ric Kamen’s lab at UCLA have found a way to make a non-toxic efficient super capacitor (i.e. battery) out of graphene (a pure carbon hexagonal structure exactly one atom thick). The structure can store many more times the energy that conventional batteries and offers the possibility of super fast charging. Here’s the kicker, they have found a way to mass produce the things with a standard DVD burner.
Imagine a cell phone battery one-fourth the size that fully charges in three seconds and lasts for five days. That may no longer be a dream. Imagine the impact it could have on the electric car. A battery that could be fully charged in say five minutes and might hold enough charge to travel a thousand miles. With mass production and the fact the structures are non-toxic, you could conceivably have an end to the dependency on oil we Americans are so fond of.
I’m not saying this is an instant solution, because they really need to send it through the wringer and see what flaws and drawbacks it has in the long run, but the potential is there. Even now, when people feel the best we can do is tweak the things already in existence we are finding new ways to re-imagine old ideas.