Penn State University engineers have come up with a new technique for making devices more efficient and tolerant of heat. Researchers designed a scalable method that can be used to increase both the electric breakdown strength as well as the electric storage efficiency of a device’s electrical system. This is unprecedented, as traditionally one of these properties increasing inevitably leads to a decrease in the other.
In order to achieve this, engineers to a dielectric capacitor and altered it. A dielectric capacitor is a device that regulates and stores energy. It is regularly used in a variety of consumer electronics and electric systems. Researchers then took dopants and used them to increase the storage capacity of the dielectric capacitor. At the same time, the engineers modified the dielectric capacitor to increase its electric charge efficiency. This gave the capacitor the ability to withstand greater voltage without suffering significant energy loss — even at temperatures surpassing 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
This method is the first that is cost-efficient enough to be scalable. Previous iterations of this technology were deemed too expensive to scale.
“What we have done is to use interface effects in nano-dopants to increase both the storage efficiency and electric breakdown strength with a very small quantity of dopants and at a low cost. A lot of people think they need to fill the capacitor with a lot of fillers to achieve the greater energy storage efficiency, but we showed you can accomplish it in the opposite direction, that is, by using very low-volume content fillers with very low-cost materials, which can also lead to greater breakdown strength. This keeps the cost low and makes this highly scalable.”Qiming Zhang, professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University
By improving the strength of the electric breakdown in the capacitor, the device will be able to tolerate far higher temperatures than before without experiencing any negative impact on its performance. Engineers believe this innovation will prove a useful advancement in a variety of different applications such as electric grids, industrial drills, and electric cars.
For now, engineers will continue to work on streamlining and improving their new technology. The next step will be devising even more efficient methods of scalability.