Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Science Fair Rock Stars: Marion Pang Wan Rion, Joy Ang Jing Zhi, and Sonia Arumuganainar

This is the third in an ongoing series highlighting some of the amazing young women participating in the 2016 Google Science Fair. (Here are the first and second posts.) Each has survived both the rigorous first pass and the second regional round, and have been named Global Finalist, meaning they have moved into the final round of competition. You can be sure I'll be watching the celebration event on September 27, 2016. 

What if your smart phone could bend and stretch? What if your smart watch's power was doubled while the battery was smaller -- or even if the wrist band was the 'battery'? Or your hybrid vehicle's batteries were in the upholstery or its paint job rather than stored in giant batteries under the hood? How cool would that be? Three smart young women from Singapore have come up with something that could do all that, and more!

Marion Pang Wan Rion, Joy Ang Jing Zhi, and Sonia Arumuganainar, all 18, have come up with a supercapacitor composed of an ultrathin electrolyte solution sandwiched between layers of graphene-based electrodes which is then painted directly on the surface of a variety of materials, including cloth and paper, that can store a large amount of energy and discharge it quickly to keep your smart devices running smoothly, even when the fabric itself is folded or torn.

In their Google Science Fair project, "Paint on Power: Enhanced Durability and Processibility," they share the details of their research into which applications worked best and how they came up with their final recommendation of mixing graphene with white glue to make it more durable and flexible, and less prone to cracking or flaking which can reduce the effectiveness of the energy storage and accessibility.
The sample with [graphene] paint-glue composite electrodes clearly shows a smaller proportional drop in capacitance after it is subjected to damage as opposed to our previous prototype (with pure graphene ink electrodes). The addition of white glue, to both the electrode and electrolyte components clearly increases the durability of the overall supercapacitor device.
This type of paint would inspire a new world of technology only barely dreamed of in science fiction, and with a bit more experimentation with organic electrolytic materials, could be completely biodegradable.
With a device that is damage-resistant and capable of being fabricated on any surface, it opens up an extremely wide range of applications, such as electronics that are flexible, wearable and disposable, or special electric vehicles that can store energy in its paint.
Efficient energy storage and quick charging and discharging will be the foundation our future is build on. I'm glad to have such smart young women working on these problems!

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