Research ArticleELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

Rationally designed graphene-nanotube 3D architectures with a seamless nodal junction for efficient energy conversion and storage

Science Advances  04 Sep 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 8, e1400198
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400198

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Abstract

One-dimensional (1D) carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and 2D single-atomic layer graphene have superior thermal, electrical, and mechanical properties. However, these nanomaterials exhibit poor out-of-plane properties due to the weak van der Waals interaction in the transverse direction between graphitic layers. Recent theoretical studies indicate that rationally designed 3D architectures could have desirable out-of-plane properties while maintaining in-plane properties by growing CNTs and graphene into 3D architectures with a seamless nodal junction. However, the experimental realization of seamlessly-bonded architectures remains a challenge. We developed a strategy of creating 3D graphene-CNT hollow fibers with radially aligned CNTs (RACNTs) seamlessly sheathed by a cylindrical graphene layer through a one-step chemical vapor deposition using an anodized aluminum wire template. By controlling the aluminum wire diameter and anodization time, the length of the RACNTs and diameter of the graphene hollow fiber can be tuned, enabling efficient energy conversion and storage. These fibers, with a controllable surface area, meso-/micropores, and superior electrical properties, are excellent electrode materials for all-solid-state wire-shaped supercapacitors with poly(vinyl alcohol)/H2SO4 as the electrolyte and binder, exhibiting a surface-specific capacitance of 89.4 mF/cm2 and length-specific capacitance up to 23.9 mF/cm, — one to four times the corresponding record-high capacities reported for other fiber-like supercapacitors. Dye-sensitized solar cells, fabricated using the fiber as a counter electrode, showed a power conversion efficiency of 6.8% and outperformed their counterparts with an expensive Pt wire counter electrode by a factor of 2.5. These novel fiber-shaped graphene-RACNT energy conversion and storage devices are so flexible they can be woven into fabrics as power sources.

Keywords
  • Graphene
  • carbon nanotube
  • 3D graphene-nanotube architecture
  • seamless nodal junction
  • chemical vapor deposition (CVD)
  • energy conversion
  • energy storage
  • supercapacitor
  • dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC)

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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