Combined Effect of Nitrogen- and Oxygen-Containing Functional Groups of Microporous Activated Carbon on its Electrochemical Performance in Supercapacitors

Authors

  • Denisa Hulicova-Jurcakova,

    1. The University of Queensland ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and School of Engineering Corner College and Cooper Roads, St Lucia, 4072 QLD (Australia)
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  • Mykola Seredych,

    1. The City College of New York, Department of Chemistry 160 Convent Ave, New York, NY 10031 (USA)
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  • Gao Qing Lu,

    1. The University of Queensland ARC Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and School of Engineering Corner College and Cooper Roads, St Lucia, 4072 QLD (Australia)
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  • Teresa J. Bandosz

    Corresponding author
    1. The City College of New York, Department of Chemistry 160 Convent Ave, New York, NY 10031 (USA)
    • The City College of New York, Department of Chemistry 160 Convent Ave, New York, NY 10031 (USA).
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Abstract

Microporous activated carbon originating from coconut shell, as received or oxidized with nitric acid, is treated with melamine and urea and heated to 950 °C in an inert atmosphere to modify the carbon surface with nitrogen- and oxygen-containing groups for a systematic investigation of their combined effect on electrochemical performance in 1 M H2SO4 supercapacitors. The chemistry of the samples is characterized using elemental analysis, Boehm titration, potentiometric titration, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Sorption of nitrogen and carbon dioxide is used to determine the textural properties. The results show that the surface chemistry is affected by the type of nitrogen precursor and the specific groups present on the surface before the treatment leading to the incorporation of nitrogen. Analysis of the electrochemical behavior of urea- and melamine-treated samples reveal pseudocapacitance from both the oxygen and the nitrogen containing functional groups located in the pores larger than 10 Å. On the other hand, pores between 5 Å and 6 Å are most effective in a double-layer formation, which correlates well with the size of hydrated ions. Although the quaternary and pyridinic-N-oxides nitrogen groups have enhancing effects on capacitance due to the positive charge, and thus an improved electron transfer at high current loads, the most important functional groups affecting energy storage performance are pyrrolic and pyridinic nitrogen along with quinone oxygen.

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