JENNIFER Q. LU FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS LAB
3D NANOCARBON MONOLITH FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY
3D-carbon-based electrodes provide an optimal combination of excellent electrical conductivity and outstanding chemical stability for electrochemical reactions. Along with its abundance and low weight, these electrodes may achieve high volumetric activity for electrochemical reactions to enable energy storage (electrochemical reactions) and energy conversion (electrocatalysis) To harness this potential, the following two prerequisites need to be met simultaneously:
Possess mechanically-stable hierarchical porous structures that allow facile mass diffusion of reactants and products with drastically different properties in a common porous medium.
Evenly- and densely-populated active species that are electrically connected to the porous 3D carbon surface are while also physically in contact with the required reactants for chemical reactions.
To meet these two requirements, we’re taking a multipronged approach to generate 3D-freestanding carbon monoliths that will meet these requirements including:
Grow 1D inorganic nanostructures directly on a carbon support, such as etched carbon cloth. This forms a mechanically stable 3D carbon structure with an extremely large surface area but with minimum tortuosity for last kinetics.
Develop methods to graft a thin polymeric layer for the formation of highly-active electrocatalytic or electrochemical species on the as-formed 3D carbon surface for high volumetric activity.
We are continuing to investigate these 3D structures, adorning them with new active species to determine if the structures can significantly enhance electrochemical reactions. For example: