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Keywords:

  • carbon nanomaterials;
  • energy conversion;
  • energy storage;
  • solar cells;
  • batteries

Abstract

It is estimated that the world will need to double its energy supply by 2050. Nanotechnology has opened up new frontiers in materials science and engineering to meet this challenge by creating new materials, particularly carbon nanomaterials, for efficient energy conversion and storage. Comparing to conventional energy materials, carbon nanomaterials possess unique size-/surface-dependent (e.g., morphological, electrical, optical, and mechanical) properties useful for enhancing the energy-conversion and storage performances. During the past 25 years or so, therefore, considerable efforts have been made to utilize the unique properties of carbon nanomaterials, including fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and graphene, as energy materials, and tremendous progress has been achieved in developing high-performance energy conversion (e.g., solar cells and fuel cells) and storage (e.g., supercapacitors and batteries) devices. This article reviews progress in the research and development of carbon nanomaterials during the past twenty years or so for advanced energy conversion and storage, along with some discussions on challenges and perspectives in this exciting field.