Chalmers University of Technology researchers think micro supercapacitors could revolutionize the way we use batteries by increasing their lifespan and enabling extremely fast charging. Manufacturers of everything from smartphones to electric cars are therefore investing heavily into research and development of these electronic components. Now, researchers have developed a method that represents a breakthrough for how such supercapacitors can be produced.

a) Schematic representation of an on-chip wireless sensor node. Sensors, processors, and transducers are powered by an energy storage unit such as a microsupercapacitor. Typically these devices need to provide from 10 μW to 10 mW of power. b) Microsupercapacitors can be integrated with energy harvester units such as photovoltaic cells or vibrational energy harvesters. The unit can be considered a power supply black box with input and output terminals seen in the blue circled inset. Image Credit: © Chalmers University of Technology. Click image for the largest view.

Agin Vyas, doctoral student at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience at Chalmers University of Technology and lead author of the article explained, “When discussing new technologies, it is easy to forget how important the manufacturing method is, so that they can actually be commercially produced and be impactful in society. Here, we have developed methods that can really work in production.”

Supercapacitors consist of two electrical conductors separated by an insulating layer. They can store electrical energy and have many positive properties compared to a normal battery, such as much more rapid charging, more efficient energy distribution, and a much greater lifespan without loss of performance, with regards to the charge and discharge cycle. When a supercapacitor is combined with a battery in an electrically powered product, the battery life can be extended many times -up to 4 times for commercial electric vehicles. And whether for personal electronic devices or industrial technologies, the benefits for the end consumer could be huge.

The paper, “Alkyl‐Amino Functionalized Reduced‐Graphene‐Oxide–heptadecan‐9‐amine‐Based Spin‐Coated Microsupercapacitors for On‐Chip Low Power Electronics,” has been published in Physica Status Solidi (b) without a paywall.

Agin Vyas continued, “It would of course be very convenient to be able to quickly charge, for example, an electric car or not have to change or charge batteries as often as we currently do in our smartphones. But it would also represent a great environmental benefit and be much more sustainable, if batteries had a longer lifespan and did not need to be recycled in complicated processes.”

But in practice, today’s supercapacitors are too large for many applications where they could be useful. They need to be about the same size as the battery they are connected to, which is an obstacle to integrating them in mobile phones or electric cars. Therefore, a large part of today’s research and development of supercapacitors is about making them smaller – significantly so.

Vyas and his colleagues have been working with developing ‘micro’ supercapacitors. These are so small that they can fit on the system circuits which control various functions in mobile phones, computers, electric motors and almost all electronics we use today. This solution is also called ‘system-on-a-chip’.

One of the most important challenges is that the minimal units need to be manufactured in such a way that they become compatible with other components in a system circuit and can easily be tailored for different areas of use. The new paper demonstrates a manufacturing process in which micro-supercapacitors are integrated with the most common way of manufacturing system circuits (known as CMOS).

Agin Vyas explained, “We used a method known as spin coating, a cornerstone technique in many manufacturing processes. This allows us to choose different electrode materials. We also use alkylamine chains in reduced graphene oxide, to show how that leads to a higher charging and storage capacity. Our method is scalable and would involve reduced costs for the manufacturing process. It represents a great step forward in production technology and an important step towards the practical application of micro-supercapacitors in both everyday electronics and industrial applications.”

Vyas’s team has also developed a method for producing micro-supercapacitors of up to ten different materials in one unified manufacturing process, which means that properties can be easily tailored to suit several different end applications.


Supercapacitors haven’t made noticeable news for say, about a decade. Back then big claims were made that simply didn’t come to fruition. That tends to make reporting about them just a bit restrained. There has been considerable improvement in the field and many marketing efforts like to super their capacitors.

But the Chalmers team has some really good numbers in their paper. So – the super is real and the sizes are definitely micro.

There is a long way to go before this technology is in your new cell phone. But it looks like the team may have cracked the more energy with better performance that might be at a lower cost. Looks like a More, Better, Cheaper development that is going to be very welcome indeed!


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