Transition metal–assisted carbonization of small organic molecules toward functional carbon materials

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Science Advances  27 Jul 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 7, eaat0788
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat0788


Nanostructured carbon materials with large surface area and desired chemical functionalities have been attracting considerable attention because of their extraordinary physicochemical properties and great application potentials in catalysis, environment, and energy storage. However, the traditional approaches to fabricating these materials rely greatly on complex procedures and specific precursors. We present a simple, effective, and scalable strategy for the synthesis of functional carbon materials by transition metal–assisted carbonization of conventional small organic molecules. We demonstrate that transition metals can promote the thermal stability of molecular precursors and assist the formation of thermally stable polymeric intermediates during the carbonization process, which guarantees the successful preparation of carbons with high yield. The versatility of this synthetic strategy allows easy control of the surface chemical functionality, porosity, and morphology of carbons at the molecular level. Furthermore, the prepared carbons exhibit promising performance in heterogeneous catalysis and electrocatalysis.

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