Hybrid electrolyte enhances supercapacitance in vertical graphene nanosheets

December 5, 2017, American Institute of Physics
Credit: AlexanderAlUS/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Supercapacitors can store more energy than and are preferable to batteries because they are able to charge faster, mainly due to the vertical graphene nanosheets (VGNs) that are larger and positioned closer together. VGNs are 3-D networks of carbon nanomaterial that grow in rows of vertical sheets, providing a large surface area for greater charge storage capacity. Also called carbon nanowalls or graphene nanoflakes, VGNs offer promise in high-power energy storage systems, fuel cells, bio sensors and magnetic devices, amongst others.

Using VGNs as the material for supercapacitor electrodes offers advantages due to their intriguing properties such as an interconnected porous nanoarchitecture, excellent conductivity, high electrochemical stability, and its array of nanoelectrodes. Advantages of VGNs can be enhanced depending on how the material is grown, treated and prepared to work with electrolytes.

"Performance of a supercapacitor not only depends on the geometry of electrode material, but also depends on the type of electrolyte and its interaction with the electrode," said Subrata Ghosh of the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research at Homi Bhabha National Institute. "To improve the energy density of a device, [electric] potential window enhancement will be one key factor."

In a paper published this week in the Journal of Applied Physics, Ghosh and a team of researchers discovered ways to improve the material's supercapacitance properties.

According to modeling, VGNs should be able to provide high charge storage capabilities, and the scientific community is trying to unlock the keys to reaching the levels of efficiency that are theoretically available. Needed improvements to be viable include, for instance, greater capacitance per unit of material, greater retention, less internal resistance, and greater electrochemical voltage ranges (operating potential windows).

"Our motivation was to improve VGN performance," Ghosh said. "We have taken two strategies. One is inventing a novel electrolyte, and another is improving the VGN structure by chemical activation. The combination of both enhances the charge storage performance remarkably."

The researcher team treated VGNs with potassium hydroxide (KOH) to activate the electrodes and then allowed the treated electrodes to interact with a hybrid electrolyte, testing the formation of the electric double layer at the electrode/electrolyte interface. They also examined the morphology, surface wettability, columbic efficiency and areal capacitance of VGN.

The novel electrolyte they created is a hybrid that combines the advantages of aqueous and organic electrolytes for a novel hybrid organo-aqueous version that works to increase supercapacitor performance of VGNs. Using an organic salt, Tetraethylammonium tetrafluoroborate (TEABF4), in an acidic aqueous solution of sulfuric acid (H2SO4), they created an electrolyte that extended the device's operating window.

Improvement of VGN architecture was associated with the process of KOH activation, which grafted the oxygen functional group onto the electrode, improved wettability, reduced internal resistance and provided a fivefold improvement in capacitance of the VGNs. The activation approach in the paper can be applied to other supercapacitor devices that are based on nanoarchitecture, Ghosh said.

"Aqueous and organic electrolytes are extensively used, but they have their own advantages and disadvantages," he said. "Hence the concept of hybrid arises."

Explore further: From greenhouse gas to 3-D surface-microporous graphene

More information: Subrata Ghosh et al, Enhanced supercapacitance of activated vertical graphene nanosheets in hybrid electrolyte, Journal of Applied Physics (2017). DOI: 10.1063/1.5002748

Related Stories

Army researchers seek better batteries

November 30, 2017

A team of Army scientists working on more efficient batteries recently published new findings in a peer-reviewed publication from the American Chemical Society.

Kitchen sponge supercapacitor has many porous benefits

February 6, 2015

By dipping small pieces of an ordinary kitchen sponge into solutions of nanoscale electrode materials, scientists have created a light-weight, low-cost supercapacitor that benefits from the sponge's porous structure. The ...

Paper supercapacitor addresses power/energy density tradeoff

September 27, 2017

By coating ordinary paper with layers of gold nanoparticles and other materials, researchers have fabricated flexible paper supercapacitors that exhibit the best performance of any textile-type supercapacitor to date. In ...

Recommended for you

Nanobot pumps destroy nerve agents

August 21, 2018

Once in the territory of science fiction, "nanobots" are closer than ever to becoming a reality, with possible applications in medicine, manufacturing, robotics and fluidics. Today, scientists report progress in developing ...

Flexible color displays with microfluidics

August 16, 2018

A new study published on Microsystems and Nanoengineering by Kazuhiro Kobayashi and Hiroaki Onoe details the development of a flexible and reflective multicolor display system that does not require continued energy supply ...

Twisted electronics open the door to tunable 2-D materials

August 16, 2018

Two-dimensional (2-D) materials such as graphene have unique electronic, magnetic, optical, and mechanical properties that promise to drive innovation in areas from electronics to energy to materials to medicine. Columbia ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

alfredschrader
not rated yet Dec 05, 2017
Supercapacitors were critical when I invented the superbrid car decades ago. We needed several Farad capacity.
Most of the power needed from the vehicle engine is for acceleration which only lasts about 8 seconds. The rest of the time the vehicle is using less that 15% of the power.
I was able to design the superbrid with a 15% displacement engine yet have it accelerate like a V8 using the supercapacitor/electric motor and stored charge.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.