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New crosslinked gel electrolytes could create high energy density supercapacitors rivaling batteries

Researchers from Augmented Optics Ltd. and the University of Surrey, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, have developed new, crosslinked gel-matrix polymer electrolytes exhibiting measured capacitance values more than 100 times those of conventional electrolytes. The new gel electrolytes are compatible with all normal production electrodes.

Augmented Optics, which has formed a subsidiary, SuperCapacitor Materials, to commercialize the materials, believes that the combination of existing electrodes and the new electrolytes have the potential to create supercapacitors that have energy storage capacities which can approach or exceed existing battery systems.

Supercapacitors feature long cycle life and high power density; they can perform thousands of high power charge/discharge cycles without loosing energy storage capacity. However, compared to batteries, they are hampered by low energy density, limiting the amount they can store.

In a paper earlier this year published in the RSC Journal of Materials Chemistry A, researchers at Seoul National University in Korea who are developing their own higher-performance cross-linked polymer-ionic liquid electrolyte succinctly explained:

LIBs [Li-ion batteries] have intrinsic limitations in power densities due to their energy storage mechanisms, so SCs [supercapacitors] that show high energy densities and wide operating voltages have been researched extensively. There are two ways to enhance the energy density of SCs: increasing capacitances and widening the operating voltages.

These methods work because the energy density is proportional to the capacitance and operating voltages.… The active electrode material plays an important role in increasing energy densities. For instance, carbonaceous materials like graphene and CNT, pseudo capacitance materials including metal oxides/hydroxides, and conductive polymers have been reported as high capacitance materials. However, those materials struggle with about process abilities, limiting of electrolyte adoption, charging/discharging properties, minimizing high cost and checking suitability for commercial production lines. Such boundaries with electrode materials motivate the development of electrolyte with high operating voltages for high energy densities. Because the operating voltages for SCs depends on the electrochemical stability window of the electrolyte.

—Ahn et al.

The Augmented Optics technology was adapted from the principles used to make soft contact lenses, which Dr. Donald Highgate (of Augmented Optics, and an alumnus of the University of Surrey) developed following his postgraduate studies at Surrey 40 years ago.

The work was conducted by researchers at the University of Surrey’s Department of Chemistry where the project was initiated by Dr. Highgate. The research team was co-led by the Principal Investigators Dr. Ian Hamerton and Dr. Brendan Howlin. Dr. Hamerton continues to collaborate on the project in his new post at the University of Bristol, where the electrochemical testing to trial the research findings was carried out by fellow University of Bristol academic David Fermin, Professor of Electrochemistry in the School of Chemistry.

The test results from the new polymers suggest that extremely high energy density supercapacitors could be constructed in the very new future. We are now actively seeking commercial partners in order to supply our polymers and offer assistance to build these ultra high energy density storage devices.

—Jim Heathcote, Chief Executive of both Augmented Optics Ltd. and Supercapacitor Materials Ltd.


  • Yong-keon Ahn, Bokyung Kim, Jieun Ko, Duck-Jea You, Zhenxing Yin, Hyunjin Kim, Dalwoo Shin, Sanghun Cho, Jeeyoung Yoo and Youn Sang Kim (2016) “All solid state flexible supercapacitors operating at 4 V with a cross-linked polymer–ionic liquid electrolyte” J. Mater. Chem. A, 4, 4386-4391 doi: 10.1039/C6TA00643D

  • Nerea Casado, Guiomar Hernández, Haritz Sardon, David Mecerreyes (2016) “Current trends in redox polymers for energy and medicine,” Progress in Polymer Science, Volume 52, Pages 107-135 doi: 10.1016/j.progpolymsci.2015.08.003



There are some very big claims in the linked press release

The technology could have a seismic impact across a number of industries, incuding transport, aerospace, energy regeneration and household applications such as mobile phones, flat screen electronic devices and biosensors.

with unfortunately little piratical detail to back them up. I would expect more from some major UK Universities.


I agree with Patrick on both counts: A major UK university should have more facts to back up these claims AND if they're going to have piratical data they should at least hand out eye patches and a parrot with the press release.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. :)


I wouldn't worry about the applications, the uni's are very good on the basic science and not so good on the application and exploitation.
However, if it is true, you could build very nice EVs and phones with them.
They'd be great for regenerative braking for urban vehicles and could be built into power packs with batteries with good energy and power numbers.
However, like batteries, when you have that much energy in a small space, you have to be very careful - don't short them out, for instance.

The Lurking Jerk

Why be critical of the university when this discovery may be in its infancy? It they are unequivocally saying these electrolytes have 100x the capacity of existing ones, that may be the whole bit of news- and it is very good news. They may be exhibiting caution and prudence and also trying to keep the chinese from copying this before they can commercialize it. You guys are snarling like Henrik upon hearing good news.

And yes, I've watched plenty of promising announcements turn into vaporware. Eeestor, for one.

Yes mahon, good point- you have to wonder what provisions they have to address the potential in shorting out, physical damage to these caps.


Will this become another ESTOR or will it be mass produced at an affordable price in about 5 years?

If so, it could become an ideal companion for FCEVs (of all sizes). Coupled with fixed FCs it could be ideal to stabilize the electric networks.

Thomas Lankester

One thing to bear in mind about UoSurrey is that they have an commercialisation ethos based around the adjoining Science Park. The most notable spin-out success story here is Surrey Satellites - now manufacturing the European GNSS Galileo satellites (amongst others).
FXed on this one!


One thing is certain.As technology focuses on electrification of the energy sector and this is foremost in the mind of thinking people, the search for solutions is expanding exponentially. The tools developed for all areas of science are also becoming more widely available at a similar rate.
Technologies which seemed impossible or mature a decade ago are coming to market on a daily basis.
Whether or not this specific version comes to market is a moot point as there will be a multitude of equivalent -some better-some lesser. We can expect to see a host of development in all our areas of interest.

This is a link to a talk by our A.U. chief scientist and panel on the end of fossil fuel that talks to electrification and the Paris targets.
There are many points and interpretations made that are both precient, insightful and eye opening of several points made are somewhat obscure to our understanding.
So listen carefully.
If we followers on this site are not clued in on the implications, this will expand our knowledge.
The assessment concludes that electrification of the energy
market is the easy bit of decarbonizing the (global) economy.

Switching on the Electric Planet:

The Lurking Jerk

Arnold: That's an interesting link. It does look like that is where we are headed, but there are two ways to get there. One is by heavy-handed regulation led by anti-business leftists, who put millions of people out of work, destroy industries, and make everyone equally miserable. The other way is to take it more slowly and let it be led more by entrepreneurs. That's the smarter way. Take the horrible red state of Texas for example: There are some pretty big renewable energy initiatives going on there, led by private capital. A bureaucratically mandated end to fossil fuels and a forced transition to electrification is a very bad idea- that is merely calling for utopia in which the sacrifices and the bills are suffered by someone else.


The most effective way to switch from unhealthy to clean technology is by progressively banning the former over an acceptable period.


1) CPPs could be banned at the rate of 5% to 10% a year starting with the most polluting ones.

2) Light ICEVs could be banned at the rate of 5%/years starting with the most polluting units, probably Diesels and large V-6s and V-8s.

3) Heavy ICEVs (mostly Diesels) could also be banned at the rate of 3% to 5% a year starting with the most polluting units

Electrification means more REs, BEVs and FCEVs and programs to effectively reduce clean e-energy consumption.


The preliminary report from .au's independent Chief Scientist and panel as PDF.


Lurking Jerk, Your main point is correct, except you attribute the loss of jobs to regulation (a clear political bias with no foundation).

The reality is that jobs will be los, or at least displaced to technology regardless of whether it is forced by regulation or bubbles up from entrepreneurs. Coal miners are not losing their jobs due to regulation. They are losing them due to competition, much of it from natural gas which is abundant due to technology developed by entrepreneurs (or maybe big oil?).

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