Nicholas Szamreta, 2014, Chemical and Biological Engineering

This past summer, I had the pleasure of working in the Ceramic Materials Laboratory at Princeton University, where I researched the potential applications of functionalized graphene sheets (FGSs) and room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) in supercapacitors. Supercapacitors present advantages over batteries, because they have much higher power densities and cycle lives. In other words, they charge and discharge more quickly than batteries and remain stable for a large number of these cycles. However, the energy density of such devices needs to be increased substantially to compete with batteries. The energy density of a supercapacitor is dependent upon the total voltage applied to the device and the capacitance of the electrode material. The coupling of FGSs and RTILs addresses both of these factors: RTILs remain stable over a large voltage window, while the high specific surface area of FGSs allows for more charge storage. I spent the summer investigating the capacitance that is intrinsic to the interface between these two materials. In addition to becoming experienced with electrochemical methods, such as impedance spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry, I also obtained data that are both interesting and relevant to the field. My findings are promising and provide motivation for continued research, something that I plan on doing as part of my senior thesis this coming year.