As existing battery technologies struggle to meet the requirements for widespread use in the field of large-scale energy storage, new concepts are urgently needed to build batteries with high energy density, low cost, and good safety. Here, we demonstrate two new aqueous batteries based on two monovalence metal ions (Li(+) /K(+) and Na(+) /K(+) ) as charge-transfer ions, Ni1 Zn1 HCF/TiP2 O7 and Ni1 Zn1 HCF/NaTi2 (PO4 )3 . These new batteries are unlike the conventional "rocking-chair" aqueous metal-ion batteries based on the migration of one type of shuttle ion between cathode and anode. They can deliver specific energy of 46 Wh kg(-1) and 53 Wh kg(-1) based on the total mass of active materials; this is superior to current aqueous battery systems based on sodium-ion and/or potassium-ion technologies. These two new batteries together with the previously developed Li(+) /Na(+) mixed-ion battery not only constitute a new battery family for energy storage, but also greatly broaden our horizons for battery research.
Rechargeable batteries made from low-cost and abundant materials operating in safe aqueous electrolytes are attractive for large-scale energy storage. Sodium-ion battery is considered as a potential alternative of current lithium-ion battery. As sodium-intercalation compounds suitable for aqueous batteries are limited, we adopt a novel concept of Li(+)/Na(+) mixed-ion electrolytes to create two batteries (LiMn2O4/Na0.22MnO2 and Na0.44MnO2/TiP2O7), which relies on two electrochemical processes. One involves Li(+) insertion/extraction reaction, and the other mainly relates to Na(+) extraction/insertion reaction. Two batteries exhibit specific energy of 17 Wh kg(-1) and 25 Wh kg(-1) based on the total weight of active electrode materials, respectively. As well, aqueous LiMn2O4/Na0.22MnO2 battery is capable of separating Li(+) and Na(+) due to its specific mechanism unlike the traditional "rocking-chair" lithium-ion batteries. Hence, the Li(+)/Na(+) mixed-ion batteries offer promising applications in energy storage and Li(+)/Na(+) separation.
A kind of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrate with high sensitivity was prepared via covalent assembly between silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) and graphene oxide (GO) sheets. With the high specific surface area, GO sheets can adsorb plenty of AgNPs; moreover, these adsorbed AgNPs formed some gathered state which can generate more hot spots of SERS. 4-Mercaptopyridine (4-MPY) was used to evaluate the SERS performance of the as-prepared substrate. The Raman enhancement factor (EF) of 4-MPY on the GO/AgNPs hybrids was up to 5.04×10(7), and the detection limit was estimated to be as low as 1 nM. The result showed that GO/AgNPs hybrids can produce stronger signals compared to silver colloids.
Poly(lactic acid) (PLA)/graphene nanocomposites were prepared by direct solution blending of PLA with graphene using chloroform as a mutual solvent. Graphene was prepared by a solution-phase processing followed by thermal reduction, which can be dispersed stably in chloroform for more than one month. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) was used to examine the quality of the dispersion of graphene in the PLA matrix. The thermal properties and crystallization behavior of the nanocomposites were investigated by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and polar optical microscopy (POM). The results showed that the thermal stability of PLA was significantly improved with a very low loading of graphene and the addition of graphene had a great effect on spherulite morphology of PLA.
Carbon nanomaterials have advanced rapidly over the last two decades and are among the most promising materials that have already changed and will keep on changing human life. Development of synthetic methodologies for these materials, therefore, has been one of the most important subjects of carbon nanoscience and nanotechnology, and forms the basis for investigating the physicochemical properties and applications of carbon nanomaterials. In this Research News article, several synthetic strategies, including solvothermal reduction, solvothermal pyrolysis, hydrothermal carbonization, and soft-chemical exfoliation are specifically discussed and highlighted, which have been developed for the synthesis of novel carbon nanomaterials over the last decade.
Helical conformation exists universally at different length scales. We present a new model to explain the energetics of a helical structure with ordered mesopores and successfully predict their equilibrium state. The formation of the helical structure, which is composed of twisted and hexagonally arrayed one-dimensional pore channels, should be understood at the macromorphology level through the competition between surface free energy reduction and torsion strain energy increase. Our model is established by first reverting a helical rod with experimentally defined parameters to a conjectured straight rod without intrinsic pore channel twisting, and then quantitatively calculating the variation of two competitive energies as a function of twist angle in the torsion process starting from the reverted straight rod. Through our model, a free energy curve is achieved, so that the equilibrium state and the helical structural parameters can be predicted, which are in good agreement with experimental results for helical rods synthesized by different surfactant templates. Moreover, our model can be successfully applied to explain the pitch-radius relationships in previous observations. Our achievement provides unique and fundamental understandings for the spontaneous mesoscopic helix formation, which are different from the microscopic helical structures such as DNA chains.
The packing structures of macroporous ordered siliceous foams (MOSFs) are systematically investigated by using a 3D electron tomography technique and the nanostructural characteristics for layered MOSFs are resolved. MOSF materials adopt an ordered 2D hexagonal arrangement in single-layered areas, regular honeycomb patterns in double-layered samples, and polyhedric cells similar to a Weaire-Phelan structure in multilayered areas, all following the principle of minimizing surface area, which is well understood in soap foams at the macroscopic scale. In surfactant-templated materials, liquid-crystal templating is generally applied, but here it is revealed that the surface-area-minimization principle can also be applied, which facilitates the design and synthesis of novel macroporous materials using surfactant molecules as templates.
A simple and scalable method is developed to synthesize TiO(2)/graphene nanostructured composites as high-performance anode materials for Li-ion batteries using hydroxyl titanium oxalate (HTO) as the intermediate for TiO(2). With assistance of a surfactant, amorphous HTO can condense as a flower-like nanostructure on graphene oxide (GO) sheets. By calcination, the HTO/GO nanocomposite can be converted to TiO(2)/graphene nanocomposite with well preserved flower-like nanostructure. In the composite, TiO(2) nanoparticles with an ultrasmall size of several nanometers construct the porous flower-like nanostructure which strongly attached onto conductive graphene nanosheets. The TiO(2)/graphene nanocomposite is able to deliver a capacity of 230 mA h g(-1) at 0.1 C (corresponding to a current density of 17 mA g(-1)), and demonstrates superior high-rate charge-discharge capability and cycling stability at charge/discharge rates up to 50 C in a half cell configuration. Full cell measurement using the TiO(2)/graphene as the anode material and spinel LiMnO(2) as the cathode material exhibit good high-rate performance and cycling stability, indicating that the TiO(2)/graphene nanocomposite has a practical application potential in advanced Li-ion batteries.
DEP is one of promising techniques for positioning nanomaterials into the desirable location for nanoelectronic applications. In contrast, the lithography technique is commonly used to make ultra-thin conducting wires and narrow gaps but, due to the limit of patterning resolution, it is not feasible to make electrical contacts on ultra-small nanomaterials for a bottom-up device fabrication. Thus, integrating the lithography and dielectrophoresis, a real bottom-up fabrication can be achieved. In this work, the device with the nanogap in between two nanofinger-electrodes is made using electron-beam lithography from top down and the ultra-small nanomaterials, such as colloidal PbSe quantum dots, polyaniline nanofibers, and reduced-graphene-oxide flakes, are placed in the nanogap by DEP from bottom up. The threshold electric field for the DEP placement of PbSe nanocrystals was roughly estimated to be about 8.3 × 10(4) V/cm under our experimental configuration. After the DEP process, several procedures for reducing contact resistances are attempted and measurements of intrinsic electron transport in versatile nanomaterials are performed. It is experimentally confirmed that electron transport in both PbSe nanocrystal arrays and polyaniline nanofibers agrees well with Prof. Ping Shengs model of granular metallic conduction. In addition, electron transport in reduced-graphene-oxide flakes follows Motts 2D variable-range-hopping model. This study illustrates an integration of the electron-beam lithography and the DEP techniques for a precise manipulation of nanomaterials into electronic circuits for characterization of intrinsic properties.
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