This new material, nanocrystals were made by a method described by Kumta as "simple and novel", where vanadium chloride is reacted with ammonia, at 400 degrees C, in an environment without water. The final product is a material made up of tiny nanocrystals six nanometers wide, and is particularly interesting because it combines the good electric conductivity of vanadium nitride with vanadium's many oxidation states in vanadium oxide.
But the main advantage of vanadium nitride is its price. According to Prof. Ian Boyd, Executive Director at the London Center for Nanotechnology, although ruthenium oxide exhibits some of the most desirable properties for supercapacitors, such as constant capacitance, reversibility, and cycle times running into the hundreds and thousands cycles, the main problem is that it is very expensive. Ruthenium oxide costs $100 per gram
The researchers are confident that this new material will be cheaper, more stable and a higher quality material for energy storage in the future. Prof. Kumta says that this nanomaterial is key to creating the next generation of supercapacitors, and will be used in everything from cars, camcorders and lawn mowers to industrial backup power systems at hospitals and airports.