Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a structural material that can store electrical energy and act like a battery within electrical devices.
The team is collaborating with Volvo to develop the material further as car bodywork and a device to store and discharge energy, which could lead to cars that are lighter and more energy efficient. The material was created by weaving carbon fibres together into a cloth, putting a layer of glass in between to separate the electrodes, then infusing a resin. Although targeted at automotive applications, the potential future for the technology could include new types of casing for smartphones and tablets which replace the batteries and allow for much thinner designs. "The challenge throughout this project has been to make a material that simultaneously stores electrical energy and gives good mechanical properties. We've now made a very big breakthrough – we've developed a very new material which has both those things at the same time," commented Dr Emile Greenhalgh, from the department of aeronautics at Imperial.