Processing of Onion-like Carbon for Electrochemical Capacitors
by Katherine L. Van Aken, Kathleen Maleski, Tyler S. Mathis, James P. Breslin, Yury Gogotsi
Multi-shell fullerenes known as onion-like carbon (OLC) are especially attractive in applications relative to energy storage, such as electrochemical capacitors, due to a near-spherical shape of particles, their nanoscale diameters and high conductivity leading to fast rate performance. Because of this, onion-like carbon can be fabricated into electrodes, used as a conductive additive, and may have potential in composites and additive manufacturing. However due to agglomeration of OLC particles, creating a stable, aqueous dispersion for ink production or formulating composites proves challenging. We explore how attrition milling, acid treatment, and probe sonication can be employed to decrease agglomeration and provide colloidal stability in aqueous media. We also investigate how the electrochemical performance changes with each processing step as well as the treatments in succession. When tested in electrochemical capacitors, the processing increases the capacitance by a factor of three, due to an added pseudocapacitive contribution which is not present in untreated OLC. As a result, the processing of OLC proves to be advantageous for the production of stable, aqueous solutions, which also exhibit improved electrochemical properties suitable for functional inks, conductive additives, and fabrication of composite electrodes.