Printed electrodes for flexible, light-weight solid-state supercapacitors - a feasibility study

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to report on the feasibility of the manufacture of printed rechargeable power sources incorporating, in the first instance, electrode structures from the previous study, and moving on to improved electrode structures fabricated, via flexographic printing, using commercially available inks. It has been shown previously that offset lithography, a common printing technique, can be used to make electrodes for energy storage devices such as primary cells. Design/methodology/approach – A pair of the original Ag/C electrodes, printed via offset lithography, were sandwiched together with a PVA-KOH gel electrolyte and then sealed. The resultant structures were characterised using electrochemical techniques and the performance as supercapacitors assessed. Following these studies, electrode structures of the same dimensions, consisting of two layers, a silver-based current collector covered with a high surface area carbon layer, were printed flexographically, using inks, on a melinex substrate. The characterisation and assessment of these structures, as supercapacitors, was determined. Findings – It was found that the supercapacitors constructed using the offset lithographic electrodes exhibited a capacitance of 0.72 mF/cm2 and had an equivalent series resistance of 3.96 Ω. The structures fabricated via flexography exhibited a capacitance of 4 mF/cm2 and had an equivalent series resistance of 1.25 Ω The supercapacitor structures were subjected to bending and rolling tests to determine device performance under deformation and stress. It was found that supercapacitor performance was not significantly reduced by bending or rolling. Originality/value – This paper provides insight into the use of printed silver/carbon electrodes within supercapacitor structures and compares the performance of devices fabricated using inks for offset lithographic printing presses and those made using commercially available inks for flexographic printing. The potential viability of such structures for low-end and cheap energy storage devices is demonstrated.