This dissertation describes the synthesis and study of porous nanocarbon and further treatment by introducing nitrogen and oxygen groups on nanocarbon, which can be used as electrodes for energy storage (supercapacitor). Electron microscopy is used to make nanoscale characterization. ZnO nanowires are used as the template of the porous nanocarbon, and nitrogen doping and oxidation treatment can help further increase the capacitive performance of the nanocarbon.
The first part of this thesis focuses on the synthesis of ZnO nanowires. Uniform ZnO nanowires with ~30 nm in width are produced at 1100℃ in a tube furnace with flowing gases (N2: 500 sccm; O2: 15 sccm). The temperature control is one of the most important parameters for making thin and ultra-long ZnO nanowires.
The second part of the thesis is about the synthesis of nanocarbons. Ultrapure ethanol is used as the carbon source to make carbonaceous deposition on ZnO nanowires. The thickness of the nanocarbons can be controlled by reaction temperature and reaction time. When the reaction time was controlled around 1h, the carbonaceous materials coating the ZnO nanowires become very thin. Then by flowing (1000 sccm) hydrogen at 750℃ through the reaction tube the ZnO nanowires are removed due to reduction and evaporation. Electrochemical evaluation of the produced nanocarbons shows that the nanocarbons possess very high specific surface area (>1400 m2/g) and a capacitance as high as 180 F/g at 10A/g in 6M KOH).
The third part of the thesis is the treatment of the as-synthesized nanocarbons to further increase capacitance. NH3 was used as the nitrogen source to react with nanocarbons at 700℃ to incorporate nitrogen group. Nitric acid (HNO3) is used as the oxidant to introduce oxygen groups. After proper nitrogen doping, the nitrogen doped nanocarbons can show high specific capacitance of 260 F/g at 1A/g in 6M KOH. After further oxidation treatment, the capacitance of the oxidized N-doped nanocarbons increased to 320 F/g at 1A/g in 6M KOH.