Structure, Morphology, and Electrochemical Properties of Transition Metal Oxide, Hydroxide, and Phosphate Nanomaterials for Energy Storage

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Energy storage technologies are crucial for efficient utilization of electricity. Supercapacitors and rechargeable batteries are of currently available energy storage systems. Transition metal oxides, hydroxides, and phosphates are the most intensely investigated electrode materials for supercapacitors and rechargeable batteries due to their high theoretical charge storage capacities resulted from reversible electrochemical reactions. Their insulating nature, however, causes sluggish electron transport kinetics within these electrode materials, hindering them from reaching the theoretical maximum. The conductivity of these transition metal based-electrode materials can be improved through three main approaches; nanostructuring, chemical substitution, and introducing carbon matrices. These approaches often lead to unique electrochemical properties when combined and balanced.

Ethanol-mediated solvothermal synthesis we developed is found to be highly effective for controlling size and morphology of transition metal-based electrode materials for both pseudocapacitors and batteries. The morphology and the degree of crystallinity of nickel hydroxide are systematically changed by adding various amounts glucose to the solvothermal synthesis. Nickel hydroxide produced in this manner exhibited increased pseudocapacitance, which is partially attributed to the increased surface area. Interestingly, this morphology effect on cobalt doped-nickel hydroxide is found to be more effective at low cobalt contents than at high cobalt contents in terms of improving the electrochemical performance.

Moreover, a thin layer of densely packed nickel oxide flakes on carbon paper substrate was successfully prepared via the glucose-assisted solvothermal synthesis, resulting in the improved electrode conductivity. When reduced graphene oxide was used for conductive coating on as-prepared nickel oxide electrode, the electrode conductivity was only slightly improved. This finding reveals that the influence of reduced graphene oxide coating, increasing the electrode conductivity, is not that obvious when the electrode is already highly conductive to begin with.

We were able to successfully control the interlayer spacing and reduce the particle size of layered titanium hydrogeno phosphate material using our ethanol-mediated solvothermal reaction. In layered structure, interlayer spacing is the key parameter for fast ion diffusion kinetics. The nanosized layered structure prepared via our method, however, exhibited high sodium-ion storage capacity regardless of the interlayer spacing, implying that interlayer space may not be the primary factor for sodium-ion diffusion in nanostructured materials, where many interstitials are available for sodium-ion diffusion.

Our ethanol-mediated solvothermal reaction was also effective for synthesis of NaTi2(PO4)3 nanoparticles with uniform size and morphology, well connected by a carbon nanotube network. This composite electrode exhibited high capacity, which is comparable to that in aqueous electrolyte, probably due to the uniform morphology and size where the preferable surface for sodium-ion diffusion is always available in all individual particles.

Fundamental understandings of the relationship between electrode microstructures and electrochemical properties discussed in this dissertation will be important to design high performance energy storage system applications.






Lee, Gyeonghee (2016). Structure, Morphology, and Electrochemical Properties of Transition Metal Oxide, Hydroxide, and Phosphate Nanomaterials for Energy Storage. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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