By Lisa Zyga @ physorg.com
Zeolite-templated carbon is a promising candidate as an electrode material for constructing an electric double layer capacitor with both high-power and high-energy densities, due to its three-dimensionally arrayed and mutually connected 1.2-nm nanopores. This carbon exhibits both very high gravimetric (140−190 F g−1) and volumetric (75−83 F cm−3) capacitances in an organic electrolyte solution. Moreover, such a high capacitance can be well retained even at a very high current up to 20 A g−1. This extraordinary high performance is attributed to the unique pore structure.
The unique 3D array of nanopores in zeolite-templated carbon enables it to be used as an electrode for high-performance supercapacitors that have a high capacitance and quick charge time. Image credit: Hiroyuki Itoi, et al. ©2011 American Chemical Society.
In order to develop next-generation electric vehicles, solar energy systems, and other clean energy technologies, researchers need an efficient way to store the energy. One of the key energy storage devices for these applications and others is a supercapacitor, also called an electric double-layer capacitor. In a recent study, scientists have investigated the possibility of using a material called zeolite-templated carbon for the electrode in this type of capacitor, and found that the material’s unique pore structure greatly improves the capacitor’s overall performance.To store energy, the electric double-layer capacitor is charged by ions that migrate from a bulk solution to an electrode, where they are adsorbed. Before reaching the electrode’s surface, the ions have to travel through narrow nanopores as quickly and efficiently as possible. Basically, the quicker the ions can travel down these paths, the quicker the capacitor can be charged, resulting in a high rate performance. Also, the greater the adsorbed ion density in the electrode, the greater the charge that the capacitor can store, resulting in a high volumetric capacitance.
Recently, scientists have been testing materials with pores of various sizes and structures to try to achieve both quick ion transport and high adsorption ion density. But the two requirements are somewhat contradictory, since ions can travel more quickly through larger nanopores, but large nanopores make the electrode density low and thus decrease the adsorbed ion density.
The zeolite-templated carbon consists of nanopores that are 1.2 nm in diameter (smaller than most electrode materials) and that have a very ordered structure (whereas other pores can be disordered and random). The nanopores’ small size makes the adsorbed ion density high, while the ordered structure – described as a diamond-like framework – allows the ions to quickly pass through the nanopores. In a previous study, the researchers showed that zeolite-templated carbon with nanopores smaller than 1.2 nm cannot enable fast ion transport, suggesting that this size may provide the optimal balance between high rate performance and high volumetric capacitance.
In tests, the zeolite-templated carbon’s properties exceeded those of other materials, demonstrating its potential to be used as an electrode for high-performance electric double-layer capacitors.
More information: Hiroyuki Itoi, et al. “Three-Dimensionally Arrayed and Mutually Connected 1.2-nm Nanopores for High-Performance Electric Double Layer Capacitor.” Journal of the American Chemical Society. DOI:10.1021/ja108315p