• 3D printed graphene based energy storage devices

      Foster, Christopher W.; Down, Michael P.; Zhang, Yan; Ji, Xiaobo; Rowley-Neale, Samuel J.; Smith, Graham C.; Kelly, Peter J.; Banks, Craig E.; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Chester; Central South University Changsha (Springer Nature, 2017-03-03)
      3D printing technology provides a unique platform for rapid prototyping of numerous applications due to its ability to produce low cost 3D printed platforms. Herein, a graphene-based polylactic acid filament (graphene/PLA) has been 3D printed to fabricate a range of 3D disc electrode (3DE) configurations using a conventional RepRap fused deposition moulding (FDM) 3D printer, which requires no further modification/ex-situ curing step. To provide proof-of-concept, these 3D printed electrode architectures are characterised both electrochemically and physicochemically and are advantageously applied as freestanding anodes within Li-ion batteries and as solid-state supercapacitors. These freestanding anodes neglect the requirement for a current collector, thus offering a simplistic and cheaper alternative to traditional Li-ion based setups. Additionally, the ability of these devices’ to electrochemically produce hydrogen via the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) as an alternative to currently utilised platinum based electrodes (with in electrolysers) is also performed. The 3DE demonstrates an unexpectedly high catalytic activity towards the HER (−0.46 V vs. SCE) upon the 1000th cycle, such potential is the closest observed to the desired value of platinum at (−0.25 V vs. SCE). We subsequently suggest that 3D printing of graphene-based conductive filaments allows for the simple fabrication of energy storage devices with bespoke and conceptual designs to be realised.
    • Self-assembled nanostructures in ionic liquids facilitate charge storage at electrified interfaces

      Mao, Xianwen; Brown, Paul; Cervinka, Citrad; Hazell, Gavin; Li, Hua; Ren, Yinying; Chen, Di; Atkin, Rob; Eastoe, Julian; Grillo, Isabelle; et al. (Springer Nature, 2019-08-12)
      Driven by the potential applications of ionic liquids (ILs) in many emerging electrochemical technologies, recent research efforts have been directed at understanding the complex ion ordering in these systems, to uncover novel energy storage mechanisms at IL–electrode interfaces. Here, we discover that surface-active ILs (SAILs), which contain amphiphilic structures inducing self-assembly, exhibit enhanced charge storage performance at electrified surfaces. Unlike conventional non amphiphilic ILs, for which ion distribution is dominated by Coulombic interactions, SAILs exhibit significant and competing van der Waals interactions owing to the non-polar surfactant tails, leading to unusual interfacial ion distributions. We reveal that, at an intermediate degree of electrode polarization, SAILs display optimum performance, because the low-charge-density alkyl tails are effectively excluded from the electrode surfaces, whereas the formation of non-polar domains along the surface suppresses undesired overscreening effects. This work represents a crucial step towards understanding the unique interfacial behaviour and electrochemical properties of amphiphilic liquid systems showing long-range ordering, and offers insights into the design principles for high-energy-density electrolytes based on spontaneous self-assembly behaviour.