The Many Deaths of Supercapacitors: Degradation, Aging, and Performance Fading

High-performance electrochemical applications have expedited the research in high-power devices. As such, supercapacitors, including electrical double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) and pseudocapacitors, have gained significant attention due to their high power density, long cycle life, and fast charging capabilities. Yet, no device lasts forever. It is essential to understand the mechanisms behind performance degradation and aging so that these bottlenecks can be addressed and tailored solutions can be developed. Herein, the factors contributing to the aging and degradation of supercapacitors, including electrode materials, electrolytes, and other aspects of the system, such as pore blocking, electrode compositions, functional groups, and corrosion of current collectors are examined. The monitoring and characterizing of the performance degradation of supercapacitors, including electrochemical methods, in situ, and ex situ techniques are explored. In addition, the degradation mechanisms of different types of electrolytes and electrode materials and the effects of aging from an industrial application standpoint are analyzed. Next, how electrode degradations and electrolyte decompositions can lead to failure, and pore blocking, electrode composition, and other factors that affect the device's lifespan are examined. Finally, the future directions and challenges for reducing supercapacitors' performance degradation, including developing new materials and methods for characterizing and monitoring the devices are summarized.