Work on a new supercapacitor has led a South Dakota State University researcher to develop a new plasma technology that will streamline display screen production.
Qi Hua Fan was working on a less-expensive supercapacitor for storing renewable energy, using biochar: a by-product of a process that converts plant materials into biofuel. Biochar has the potential to be used in place of activated carbon as an electrode.
Biochar was deposited on a substrate using an electrochemical process developed by Fan. He also developed a faster way of treating the biochar particles (changing the material surface), using a new technology called plasma activation. Using this process, the biochar was activated in five minutes at room temperature – compared to convention processes, which take ‘several hours’ and must take place at almost 1,000 deg .
The plasma activation process can also be applied to display production. Fan worked with Wintek (which provided funding for his work) on ways to produce more efficient, better-performing materials (such as silicon and carbon thin films) for the company’s displays. According to Fan, the high-energy plasma can deposit highly transparent and conductive thin films, create high-quality semiconductors and pattern micro- or nano-scale devices, making the display images brighter and clearer.
A prototype plasma system will be developed by Fan and Wintek.