Sponges hold the key to the batteries of the future

A new energy storage device developed by MIT researchers that uses sponge-like structures could outstrip the current carbon-based tech.

Luke Lancaster Associate Editor / Australia
Luke Lancaster is an Associate Editor with CNET, based out of Australia. He spends his time with games (both board and video) and comics (both reading and writing).
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MIT researchers have for the first time developed conductive metal-organic frameworks. Don't close the tab just yet, because these MOFs could be at the heart of the next generation of battery technology in power grids and electric cars.

Current supercapacitors rely on carbon, which requires high temperatures and harsh chemicals to produce. The sponge-like structure of MOFs offers far more surface area, which is a key component in producing supercapacitors but the challenge was in making the material conductive.

"Our lab's discovery of highly electrically conductive MOFs opened up a whole new category of applications," said Mircea Dincă, an MIT associate professor of chemistry and one of the co-writers of the paper.

Even without optimisation, the new tech matched or exceeded the current carbon supercapacitors in key performance areas.

The team says supercapacitors are able to store comparatively large amounts of power and could "play an important role in making renewable energy sources practical for widespread deployment," reads the release. The team's findings will be published in the journal Nature Materials.