Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Storing A Lightning Bolt In Glass For Portable Power

Date:
May 2, 2009
Source:
Penn State Materials Research Institute
Summary:
Materials researchers have reported the highest known breakdown strength for a bulk glass ever measured. Breakdown strength, along with dielectric constant, determines how much energy can be stored in an insulating material before it fails and begins to conduct electricity.

Flexible alkali-free barium boroaluminosilicate glass with a thin coating of platinum to enhance visibility.
Credit: April Benson MRI

Materials researchers at Penn State University have reported the highest known breakdown strength for a bulk glass ever measured. Breakdown strength, along with dielectric constant, determines how much energy can be stored in an insulating material before it fails and begins to conduct electricity.

A bulk glass with high breakdown strength and high dielectric constant would make an ideal candidate for the next generation of high energy density storage capacitors to power more efficient electric vehicles, as well as other portable and pulsed power applications.

The highest dielectric breakdown strengths for bulk glasses are typically in the 4-9MV/cm range. The breakdown strength for the tested samples were in the 12MV/cm range, which in conjunction with a relatively high permittivity, resulted in energy densities of 35 J/cm3, as compared to a maximum energy density of 10 J/cm3 for polypropylene, the most common dielectric for pulsed power applications.

“For a bulk glass, this is extraordinary,” says Nick Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering at Penn State, who is lead author on the report and performed the testing. Smith used samples of 50 micron-thick commercial glass, which he etched for testing with hydrofluoric acid until the samples were only 10-20 microns thick. The resulting glass was so thin it could be flexed like a piece of plastic film, yet so delicate it could easily disintegrate if mishandled. The thinner the glass, the more electric field can be applied before failure.

The etched glass was placed in a polymer fluid for testing and up to 30,000 volts were applied. When the breakdown point was reached, electricity began to flow through the glass suddenly, with a flash and a bang that resembles a lightning bolt conducting through air. The polymer fluid was used to contain the lightning. In each case, failure occurred within 40 to 80 seconds.

The bulk glass tested is an alkali-free barium boroaluminosilicate glass produced in large quantities for flat panel displays and microelectronics packaging. Its high energy storage capability is attributed to the highly polarizable barium atoms, which contribute to the enhanced permittivity, and the alkali-free composition, which inhibits energy loss. Also a factor is the nearly defect-free quality of the glass. The specific process used to manufacture this glass yields a more flaw-free material, especially at the surface, which further enhances resistance to breakdown. Sheets of 30-micron-thick glass, which are expected to be available commercially in the near future, are likely to have even higher breakdown strength than the etched glass due to an even more uniform flaw-free surface. “This opens a potentially new market for glass,” says Smith. “We are always looking for new functionalities in glass. Ideally, manufacturing will get to a point where they can make any size sheet they need for any size capacitor.”

Contributing author Michael Lanagan points out that engineering challenges remain as they scale up from the small size glass capacitors tested to those ready for commercial production. “We’ll lose some of the energy density as we increase in volume," he says, “but we should still end up with some remarkable capacitance.”

In addition to Smith, the authors are graduate student Badri Rangarajan, engineering science and mechanics, Michael T. Lanagan, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, and Carlo G. Pantano, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering.

This research was supported by the Office of Naval Research, the Pennsylvania State University Materials Research Institute, the National Science Foundation, the Center for Optical Technologies, and Bayer MaterialScience LLC.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State Materials Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Smith et al. Alkali-free glass as a high energy density dielectric material. Materials Letters, 2009; 63 (15): 1245 DOI: 10.1016/j.matlet.2009.02.047

Cite This Page:

Penn State Materials Research Institute. "Storing A Lightning Bolt In Glass For Portable Power." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501204039.htm>.
Penn State Materials Research Institute. (2009, May 2). Storing A Lightning Bolt In Glass For Portable Power. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501204039.htm
Penn State Materials Research Institute. "Storing A Lightning Bolt In Glass For Portable Power." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090501204039.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins