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  1. Abstract

    Fe‐N‐C single‐atom catalysts (SACs) are emerging as a promising class of electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) to replace Pt‐based catalysts. However, due to the limited loading of Fe for SACs and the inaccessibility of internal active sites, only a small portion of the sites near the external surface are able to contribute to the ORR activity. Here, this work reports a metal–organic framework‐derived Fe‐N‐C SAC with a hierarchically porous and concave nanoarchitecture prepared through a facile but effective strategy, which exhibits superior electrocatalytic ORR activity with a half‐wave potential of 0.926 V (vs RHE) in alkaline media and 0.8 V (vs RHE) in acidic media while maintaining excellent stability. The superior ORR activity of the as‐designed catalyst stems from the unique architecture, where the hierarchically porous architecture contains micropores as Fe SAC anchoring sites, meso‐/macro‐pores as accessible channels, and concave shell for increasing external surface area. The unique architecture has dramatically enhanced the utilization of previously blocked internal active sites, as confirmed by a high turnover frequency of 3.37 s−1and operando X‐ray absorption spectroscopy analysis with a distinct shift of adsorption edge.

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  2. Abstract

    Ion‐insertion capacitors show promise to bridge the gap between supercapacitors of high power densities and batteries of high energy densities. While research efforts have primarily focused on Li+‐based capacitors (LICs), Na+‐based capacitors (SICs) are theoretically cheaper and more sustainable. Owing to the larger size of Na+compared to Li+, finding high‐rate anode materials for SICs has been challenging. Herein, an SIC anode architecture is reported consisting of TiO2nanoparticles anchored on a sheared‐carbon nanotubes backbone (TiO2/SCNT). The SCNT architecture provides advantages over other carbon architectures commonly used, such as reduced graphene oxide and CNT. In a half‐cell, the TiO2/SCNT electrode shows a capacity of 267 mAh g−1at a 1 C charge/discharge rate and a capacity of 136 mAh g−1at 10 C while maintaining 87% of initial capacity over 1000 cycles. When combined with activated carbon (AC) in a full cell, an energy density and power density of 54.9 Wh kg−1and 1410 W kg−1, respectively, are achieved while retaining a 90% capacity retention over 5000 cycles. The favorable rate capability, energy and power density, and durability of the electrode is attributed to the enhanced electronic and Na+conductivity of the TiO2/SCNT architecture.

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  3. Abstract

    Si‐based anodes with a stiff diamond structure usually suffer from sluggish lithiation/delithiation reaction due to low Li‐ion and electronic conductivity. Here, a novel ternary compound ZnSi2P3with a cation‐disordered sphalerite structure, prepared by a facile mechanochemical method, is reported, demonstrating faster Li‐ion and electron transport and greater tolerance to volume change during cycling than the existing Si‐based anodes. A composite electrode consisting of ZnSi2P3and carbon achieves a high initial Coulombic efficiency (92%) and excellent rate capability (950 mAh g−1at 10 A g−1) while maintaining superior cycling stability (1955 mAh g−1after 500 cycles at 300 mA g−1), surpassing the performance of most Si‐ and P‐based anodes ever reported. The remarkable electrochemical performance is attributed to the sphalerite structure that allows fast ion and electron transport and the reversible Li‐storage mechanism involving intercalation and conversion reactions. Moreover, the cation‐disordered sphalerite structure is flexible to ionic substitutions, allowing extension to a family of Zn(Cu)Si2+xP3solid solution anodes (x= 0, 2, 5, 10) with large capacity, high initial Coulombic efficiency, and tunable working potentials, representing attractive anode candidates for next‐generation, high‐performance, and low‐cost Li‐ion batteries.

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  4. Abstract

    Developing low‐cost, high‐performance electro‐catalysts is essential for large‐scale application of electrochemical energy devices. In this article, reported are the findings in understanding and controlling oxygen defects in PrBa0.5Sr0.5Co1.5Fe0.5O5+δ(PBSCF) for significantly enhancing the rate of oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are reported. Utilizing surface‐sensitive characterization techniques and first‐principle calculations, it is found that excessive oxygen vacancies promote OHaffiliation and lower the theoretical energy for the formation of O* on the surface, thus greatly facilitating the OER kinetics. On the other hand, however, oxygen vacancies also increase the energy band gap and lower the O 2pband center of PBSCF, which may hinder OER kinetics. Still, careful tuning of these competing effects has resulted in enhanced OER activity for PBSCF with oxygen defects. This work also demonstrates that oxygen defects generated by different techniques have very different characteristics, resulting in different impacts on the activity of electrodes. In particular, PBSCF nanotubes after electrochemical reduction exhibit outstanding OER activity compared with the recently reported perovskite‐based catalysts.

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  5. Abstract

    Compact, light, and powerful energy storage devices are urgently needed for many emerging applications; however, the development of advanced power sources relies heavily on advances in materials innovation. Here, the findings in rational design, one‐pot synthesis, and characterization of a series of Ni hydroxide‐based electrode materials in alkaline media for fast energy storage are reported. Under the guidance of density functional theory calculations and experimental investigations, a composite electrode composed of Co‐/Mn‐substituted Ni hydroxides grown on reduced graphene oxide (rGO) is designed and prepared, demonstrating capacities of 665 and 427 C g−1at current densities of 2 and 20 A g−1, respectively. The superior performance is attributed mainly to the low deprotonation energy and the facile electron transport, as elaborated by theoretical calculations. When coupled with an electrode based on organic molecular‐modified rGO, the resulting hybrid device demonstrates an energy density of 74.7 W h kg−1at a power density of 1.68 kW kg−1while maintaining capacity retention of 91% after 10,000 cycles (20 A g−1). The findings not only provide a promising electrode material for high‐performance hybrid capacitors but also open a new avenue toward knowledge‐based design of efficient electrode materials for other energy storage applications.

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  6. The development of low-cost, highly efficient and stable electrocatalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is of great significance for many promising energy storage and conversion applications, including metal–air batteries and water splitting technology. Here we report a layer-structured Ca 0.5 CoO 2 nanofibers composed of interconnected ultrathin nanoplates, synthesized using an electrospinning process. The OER activity of Ca 0.5 CoO 2 can be dramatically improved by iron doping, and the overpotential of Ca 0.5 Co 1− x Fe x O 2 ( x = 0.25) is only 346 mV at a current density of 10 mA cm −2 . The mass activity and intrinsic activity of Ca 0.5 Co 0.75 Fe 0.25 O 2 at 1.6 V are, respectively, ∼18.7 and ∼11.4 times higher than those of Ca 0.5 CoO 2 . Iron doping modifies the electronic structure of Ca 0.5 CoO 2 , resulting in partial oxidation of the surface cobalt and increased amount of highly oxidative species (O 2 2− /O 2 ). Consequently, Ca 0.5 Co 0.75 Fe 0.25 O 2 nanofibers with tuned electronic states have shown great potential as cost-effective and efficient electrocatalysts for OER. 
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  7. The development of anode materials with high-rate capability is critical to high-power lithium batteries. T-Nb 2 O 5 has been widely reported to exhibit pseudocapacitive behavior and fast lithium storage capability. However, the other polymorphs of Nb 2 O 5 prepared at higher temperatures have the potential to achieve even higher specific capacity and tap density than T-Nb 2 O 5 , offering higher volumetric power and energy density. Here, micrometer-sized H-Nb 2 O 5 with rich Wadsley planar defects (denoted as d-H-Nb 2 O 5 ) is designed for fast lithium storage. The performance of H-Nb 2 O 5 with local rearrangements of [NbO 6 ] octahedra blocks surpasses that of T-Nb 2 O 5 in terms of specific capacity, rate capability, and stability. A wide range variation in the valence of niobium ions upon lithiation was observed for defective H-Nb 2 O 5 via operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Operando extended X-ray absorption fine structure and ex situ Raman spectroscopy analyses reveal a large and reversible distortion of the structure in the two-phase region. Computation and ex situ X-ray diffraction analysis reveal that the shear structure expands along major lithium diffusion pathways and contracts in the direction perpendicular to the shear plane. Planar defects relieve strain through perpendicular arrangements of blocks, minimizing volume change and enhancing structural stability. In addition, strong Li adsorption on planar defects enlarges intercalation capacity. Different from nanostructure engineering, our strategy to modify the planar defects in the bulk phase can effectively improve the intrinsic properties. The findings in this work offer new insights into the design of fast Li-ion storage materials in micrometer sizes through defect engineering, and the strategy is applicable to the material discovery for other energy-related applications. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    Both electronic and ionic conductivities are of high importance to the performance of anode materials for Li-ion batteries. Many large capacity anode materials (such as Ge) do not have sufficiently high electronic and ionic conductivities required for high-rate cycling. Here, we report a novel ternary compound, copper germanium phosphide (CuGe 2 P 3 ), as a high-rate anode. Being synthesized via a facile and scalable mechanochemistry method, CuGe 2 P 3 has a cation-disordered sphalerite structure and offers higher ionic and electronic conductivities and better tolerance to volume change during cycling than Ge, as confirmed by first principles calculations and experimental characterization, including high-resolution synchrotron X-ray diffraction, HRTEM, SAED, XPS and Raman spectroscopy. Furthermore, the results suggest that CuGe 2 P 3 has a reversible Li-storage mechanism of conversion reaction. When composited with graphite by virtue of a two-stage ball-milling process, the yolk–shell structure of the amorphous carbon-coated CuGe 2 P 3 nanocomposite (CuGe 2 P 3 /C@Graphene) delivers a high initial coulombic efficiency (91%), a superior cycling stability (1312 mA h g −1 capacity after 600 cycles at 0.2 A g −1 and 876 mA h g −1 capacity after 1600 cycles at 2 A g −1 ), and an excellent rate capability (386 mA h g −1 capacity at 30 A g −1 ), surpassing most Ge-based anodes reported to date. Moreover, a series of cation-disordered new phases in the Cu(Zn)–Ge–P family with various cation ratios offer similar Li-storage properties, achieving high reversible capacities with high initial coulombic efficiencies and desirable redox chemistry with improved safety. 
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  9. null (Ed.)
    Highly efficient air electrodes are a key component of reversible fuel cells for energy storage and conversion; however, the development of efficient electrodes that are stable against water vapor remains a grand challenge. Here we report an air–electrode, composed of double perovskite material PrBa 0.8 Ca 0.2 Co 2 O 5+δ (PBCC) backbone coated with nanoparticles (NPs) of BaCoO 3−δ (BCO), that exhibits remarkable electrocatalytic activity for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) while maintaining excellent tolerance to water vapor. When tested in a symmetrical cell exposed to wet air with 3 vol% H 2 O at 750 °C, the electrode shows an area specific resistance of ∼0.03 Ω cm 2 in an extended period of time. The performance enhancement is attributed mainly to the electrocatalytic activity of the BCO NPs dispersed on the surface of the porous PBCC electrode. Moreover, in situ Raman spectroscopy is used to probe reaction intermediates ( e.g. , oxygen species) on electrode surfaces, as the electrochemical properties of the electrodes are characterized under the same conditions. The direct correlation between surface chemistry and electrochemical behavior of an electrode is vital to gaining insight into the mechanisms of the electrocatalytic processes in fuel cells and electrolysers. 
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