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Nitrogen-doped mesoporous carbon of extraordinary capacitance for electrochemical energy storage

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Science  18 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6267, pp. 1508-1513
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3798

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Store more energy with a touch of nitrogen

In contrast to batteries, capacitors typically can store less power, but they can capture and release that power much more quickly. Lin et al. fabricated a porous carbon material that was then doped with nitrogen. This raised the energy density of the carbon more than threefold—an increase that was retained in full capacitors, without losing their ability to deliver power quickly.

Science, this issue p. 1508

Abstract

Carbon-based supercapacitors can provide high electrical power, but they do not have sufficient energy density to directly compete with batteries. We found that a nitrogen-doped ordered mesoporous few-layer carbon has a capacitance of 855 farads per gram in aqueous electrolytes and can be bipolarly charged or discharged at a fast, carbon-like speed. The improvement mostly stems from robust redox reactions at nitrogen-associated defects that transform inert graphene-like layered carbon into an electrochemically active substance without affecting its electric conductivity. These bipolar aqueous-electrolyte electrochemical cells offer power densities and lifetimes similar to those of carbon-based supercapacitors and can store a specific energy of 41 watt-hours per kilogram (19.5 watt-hours per liter).

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