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Efficient storage mechanisms for building better supercapacitors

Abstract

Supercapacitors are electrochemical energy storage devices that operate on the simple mechanism of adsorption of ions from an electrolyte on a high-surface-area electrode. Over the past decade, the performance of supercapacitors has greatly improved, as electrode materials have been tuned at the nanoscale and electrolytes have gained an active role, enabling more efficient storage mechanisms. In porous carbon materials with subnanometre pores, the desolvation of the ions leads to surprisingly high capacitances. Oxide materials store charge by surface redox reactions, leading to the pseudocapacitive effect. Understanding the physical mechanisms underlying charge storage in these materials is important for further development of supercapacitors. Here we review recent progress, from both in situ experiments and advanced simulation techniques, in understanding the charge storage mechanism in carbon- and oxide-based supercapacitors. We also discuss the challenges that still need to be addressed for building better supercapacitors.

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Figure 1: Examples of nanoporous carbon structures.
Figure 2: Characterization of pore wetting at null potential.
Figure 3: Desolvation of the ions in electrified nanopores.
Figure 4: Characterization of the charging dynamics of supercapacitors.
Figure 5: Different types of pseudocapacitive behaviour.
Figure 6: Nanohybrid supercapacitor set-up and characterization.
Figure 7: Evolution of the picture of the electrode/electrolyte interface in the past decade.

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Acknowledgements

We thank our many co-workers who have contributed to the work presented in this review. C.P.G. thanks J. Griffin for his critical reading of the manuscript. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013)/ ERC grant agreement no. 102539.

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Salanne, M., Rotenberg, B., Naoi, K. et al. Efficient storage mechanisms for building better supercapacitors. Nat Energy 1, 16070 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2016.70

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