Fabrication of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Electrodes for Ultracapacitors
Moore, Joshua John Edward
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Well dispersed aqueous suspensions containing single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) from bulk powders were prepared with surfactant and without surfactant by acid functionalization. SWCNT coated electrodes were then prepared from the SWCNT aqueous suspensions using various methods to create uniform nanoporous networks of SWCNTs on various substrates and stainless steel (SST) current collectors for use as ultracapacitor electrodes. Drop coating, high voltage electro-spraying (HVES), inkjet printing, and electrophoretic deposition (EPD) methods were evaluated. Optical and scanning electron microscope images were used to evaluate the SWCNT dispersion quality of the various electrodes. Ultimately an EPD process was established which reliably produced uniform SWCNT nanoporous networks on SST substrates. The prepared SWCNT coated electrodes were characterized using cyclic voltammetry and their capacitance was determined. A correlation between extended EPD processing times, EPD processing temperatures, and electrode capacitance was quantified. Optimum EPD processing occurs where linear capacitance gains were observed for processing times less than 10 minutes. At processing times between 10 – 60 minutes a non-linear relationship demonstrated diminishing capacitance gains with extended EPD processing times. Likewise, optimum EPD processing occurs when the processing temperature of the SWCNT suspension is raised above room temperature. At processing temperatures from 45°C to 60°C an increase in capacitance was observed over the room temperature (22°C) electrodes processed for the same durations. Conversely, for processing temperatures less than room temperature, at 5°C, a decrease in capacitance was observed. It was also observed that SWCNT electrodes processed at 60°C processing temperatures resulted in 4 times the capacitance of 5°C electrodes for the same processing times, when the durations were 8 minutes or less. For samples with raised processing temperatures the time dependent capacitance gains were observed to be significantly diminished beyond 10 minute processing times. The SWCNT network thickness was also correlated to EPD processing temperature and capacitance. A linear relationship was identified between the SWCNT network thickness and the capacitance of the electrode. It was also observed that elevated processing temperatures increase the EPD deposition rate of SWCNTs, produce thicker SWCNT networks, and thus create electrodes with higher capacitance than electrodes processed at lower EPD processing temperatures. EPD of SWCNTs was demonstrated in this work to be an effective method for the fabrication of SWCNT ultracapacitor electrodes. Characterization of the process determined that optimal EPD processing occurs within the first 10 minutes of processing time and that elevated processing temperatures yield higher SWCNT deposition rates and higher capacitance values. In this work the addition of SWCNT nanoporous networks to SST electrodes resulted in increases in capacitance of up to 398 times the capacitance of the uncoated SST electrodes yielding a single 1cm2 electrode with a capacitance of 91mF and representing an estimated specific capacitance for the processed SWCNT material of 45.78F/g.