Synthesis and characterization of nanostructured, mixed-valent compounds for electrochemical energy storage devices
Song, Min Kyu
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The performances of current electrical energy storage systems (both batteries and electrochemical capacitors) are not capable of meeting the ever-increasing demands of emerging technologies. This is because batteries often suffer from slow power delivery, limited life-time, and long charging time whereas electrochemical capacitors suffer from low energy density. While extensive efforts have been made to the development of novel electrode materials, progress has been hindered by the lack of a profound understanding on the complex charge storage mechanism. Therefore, the main objective of this research is to develop novel electrode materials which can exhibit both high energy and power density with prolonged life-time and to gain a fundamental understanding of their charge storage mechanism. First, nanostructured, thin, and conformal coatings of transition metal oxides have been deposited onto three-dimensional porous substrates of current collectors to form composite electrodes. The structures and compositions of the oxide coatings are further altered by a controlled annealing process and characterized by electron microscopy and spectroscopy, laboratory X-ray diffraction, gas adsorption analysis, and in-situ and ex-situ synchrotron-enabled X-ray diffraction and absorption spectroscopy. The structural features have also been correlated with the electrochemical behavior of the transition metal oxides as an electrode in an electrochemical capacitor. It is found that the electrochemical performance of the composite electrodes depends sensitively on the composition, nanostructure, and morphology of the oxide coatings. When optimized, the electrodes displayed the highest energy and power density with excellent cycling life among all materials reported for electrochemical capacitors. Finally, new charge storage mechanisms have also been proposed for the novel electrode materials based on insights gained from in-situ synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectroscopy.