In December 2014, Rice University researchers designed a process (called LIG) in which a computer-controlled laser burns through a polymer to create flexible, patterned sheets of multilayer graphene that may be suitable for electronics or energy storage.

Now, their research has advanced to use the LIG process to produce 3D supercapacitors. The scientists made supercapacitors with laser-induced graphene on both sides of a polymer sheet. The sections were stacked with solid electrolytes in between, to get a multilayer construct with multiple micro-supercapacitors.

The researchers report that the flexible stacks show excellent energy-storage capacity and power potential and can be scaled up for commercial applications. While lithium-ion batteries can store more energy, LIG supercapacitors (of the same size) boast three times the power performance (speed of energy flow). On top of a ll that, the LIG supercapacitors are also flexible and produced in open air at room temperature without the need of a clean room.

During testing, the researchers charged and discharged the devices for thousands of cycles with almost no loss of capacitance. The vertical supercapacitors also showed almost no change in electrical performance when flexed, even after 8,000 bending cycles.

The LIG supercapacitors are hoped to be highly beneficial for flexible electronics and various wearable applications.