Nanoclay-based hierarchical interconnected mesoporous CNT/PPy electrode with improved specific capacitance for high performance supercapacitors†
A natural layered clay known as montmorillonite, a lamellar aluminosilicate with ∼1 nm thickness, has attracted intense attention in ongoing research due to its large natural abundance and environmental friendliness. Endowed with highly active surface sites the nanoclay has been extensively used in various fields viz. catalysis, biosensors etc. even though the role played by nanoclay on energy storage performance has not been elucidated. In this present work, a series of nanoclay (Closite 30B) based hierarchical open interconnected mesoporous electrode materials for supercapacitors (SCs) has been synthesized in the presence of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and polypyrrole (PPy) by a facile in situ and ex situ approach. The role of nanoclay was explored as a dopant and its substantial doping effect exerted on the electrochemical performance towards energy storage was investigated. A coating of PPy over CNTs and nanoclay was confirmed from FESEM analysis which revealed the genesis of a nanoclay-supported hierarchical interconnected mesoporous framework. Furthermore, a PPy-coated CNT array in the presence of nanoclay was found to be highly porous with a high specific surface area without obvious deterioration. These interconnected structures can contribute to better penetration of electrolyte ions by shortening the path length for rapid transport of ions and electrons even at high rates. Cyclic voltammetry measurements revealed that nanoclay based in situ composite (CNP) and ex situ composite (CPN) exhibited a maximum specific capacitance of 425 F g−1 and 317 F g−1, respectively at a scan rate of 10 mV s−1, which is comparatively higher than that of CP (i.e. PPy-coated CNTs) (76.77 F g−1). Similarly, a 273% increase in the specific capacitance of PPy was achieved after nanoclay incorporation in the nanocomposite NP (i.e. PPy-coated nanoclay) as compared to virgin PPy. These results are in good agreement with the specific capacitance performance by galvanostatic charging–discharging analysis performed at 5 A g−1. It was also found that all the nanocomposite retains about 94% initial specific capacitance even after 2000 consecutive cycles. Thus, this kind of nanoclay-based hierarchical nanostructured framework is believed to be extremely beneficial for SCs applications.