Nanocarbon Composites and Hybrids in Sustainability: A Review

Authors

  • Dr. Juan J. Vilatela,

    1. IMDEA Materials, E.T.S. de Ingeniería de Caminos, C/ Profesor Aranguren, s.n., 28040 Madrid (Spain)
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  • Prof. Dr. Dominik Eder

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Physical Chemistry, University of Münster, Corrensstrasse 28–30, 47149 Münster (Germany), Fax: (+49) 251 83 29159
    • Institute of Physical Chemistry, University of Münster, Corrensstrasse 28–30, 47149 Münster (Germany), Fax: (+49) 251 83 29159
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Abstract

There is an ever-growing need to protect our environment by increasing energy efficiency and developing “clean” energy sources. These are global challenges, and their resolution is vital to our energy security. Although many conventional materials, such as metals, ceramics, and plastics, cannot fulfil all requirements for these new technologies, many material combinations can offer synergistic effects that create improved and even new properties. The implementation of nanocarbons, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes, into nanocomposites and, more recently, into the new class of hybrids, are very promising examples. In contrast to classical nanocomposites, where a low volume fraction of the carbon component is mixed into a polymer or ceramic matrix, hybrids are materials in which nanocarbon is coated with a thin layer of the functional compound, which introduces the interface as a powerful new parameter. Based on interfacial charge and energy transfer processes, nanocarbon hybrids have shown increased sensitivities in gas sensors, improved efficiencies in photovoltaics, superior activities in photocatalysts, and enhanced capacities in supercapacitors. This review compares the characteristics and potentials of both nanocarbon composites and hybrids, highlights recent developments in their synthesis and discusses key challenges for their use in various energy applications.

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