A detailed understanding of ion adsorption within porous carbon is key to the design and improvement of electric double-layer capacitors, more commonly known as supercapacitors. In this work nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is used to study ion adsorption in porous carbide-derived carbons. These predominantly microporous materials have a tuneable pore size which enables a systematic study of the effect of pore size on ion adsorption. Multinuclear NMR experiments performed on the electrolyte anions and cations reveal two main environments inside the carbon. In-pore ions (observed at low frequencies) are adsorbed inside the pores, whilst ex-pore ions (observed at higher frequencies) are not adsorbed and are in large reservoirs of electrolyte between carbon particles. All our experiments were carried out in the absence of an applied electrical potential in order to assess the mechanisms related to ion adsorption without the contribution of electrosorption. Our results indicate similar adsorption behaviour for anions and cations. Furthermore, we probe the effect of sample orientation, which is shown to have a marked effect on the NMR spectra. Finally, we show that a 13C → 1H cross polarisation experiment enables magnetisation transfer from the carbon architecture to the adsorbed species, allowing selective observation of the adsorbed ions and confirming our spectral assignments.
This article is Open Access
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