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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 30, 1998)
[ - _
I Research may crystallize
in more powerful batteries
By Hui Chin Lim
Even the coldest Nebraska win
ters could be powerless to weaken
car batteries, thanks to some UNL
Led by Stephen Ducharme, the
researchers are working to create a
cold-proof electric storage device
called a capacitor.
“The device called the capacitor
is better than a battery in the sense
that it works even in cold tempera
ture,” said Ducharme, an associate
physics and astronomy professor.
A capacitor will be possible
when UNL researchers finish
developing the perfect crystal in a
joint effort with researchers from
the Institute of Crystallography in
Moscow’s Russian Academy of
Such a perfect crystal, defined
by its ultra-thinness, could lead to
many significant innovations.
The crystalline structure being
studied to create the perfect crystal
consists of single-layered polymer
films and is the result of five years
of collaborative research between
American and Russian physicists.
This polymer material has exist
ed for about 30 years, but research
remains in early stages. Many engi
neering questions have yet to be
Ducharme said he discovered
the crystal project partly by acci
dent about three years ago while
working on another project.
He started developing the idea
of an ultra-thin polymer film after
meeting with Russian colleagues
Vladimir Fradkin and Alexander
Bune five years ago.
Although the car capacitor
seems most promising, it’s not the
only advancement possible should
the colleagues’ breakthrough poly
mer research succeed. !
Ducharme said the polymer also
is extremely useful for information
storage, because it is a lot faster to
retrieve information from it than
crystalline systems being used now.
Batteries also could become
“The electrical storage capacity
of batteries and capacitors depends
on the surface area and thinness of
materials,” Ducharme said.
Thinner materials would allow
the manufacture of lighter-weight
batteries and other energy storage
According to Ducharme’s theo
ry, if the polymer film could be
made 10 times thinner, it would
produce 100 times more energy.
Should he finish creating the
perfect crystal, it wouldn’t be
Ducharme’s first patented success.
His most prominent is a patent
on an optical device-called an ellip
someter that tests material sur
The device, created in collabo
ration with the J.A. Woollam
Company in Lincoln, was a univer
sity project with NASA to invent an
instrument to study the degradation
of surface materials for shuttles in
UNL senior physics major
Shawn Pebly said Ducharme’s
intensity keeps everyone on his
research team focused and motivat
ed to find the perfect crystal.
“Professor Ducharme is very
dedicated to his job, and this makes
him a success.”
I A GREAT id
use the Campus Recreati
all SUMMER 'for only
I Note: this cost will bo LFSfi ifyouaro onrollod in any oumnrtor sasaion but you don't hava to bo I
o —manor «*udowt to toko advantage oflhia opportunity < if you ware ragiotorad in tbo apring I
fionwstor. you ora oligiblo.
(*Al L: 472—3467 or sign up in Room 33 CRoc or Room 32 ECAB
■ . ,r y T4 * *•; • •
APRIL 30TH AND MAY 4TH ON EAST EAST UNION
MAY 1ST AND MAY 5TH ON CITY CITY UNION
NOON TO 4 P.M. ALL FOUR
MUST SHOW STUDENT OR FACULTY LD. - j
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