Nanostructured mesophase electrode materials: modulating charge-storage behavior by thermal treatment
3D nanostructured carbonaceous electrode materials with tunable capacitive phases were successfully developed using graphene/particulate polypyrrole (PPy) nanohybrid (GPNH) precursors without a separate process for incorporating heterogeneous species. The electrode material, namely carbonized GPNHs (CGPNHs) featured a mesophase capacitance consisting of both electric double-layer (EDL) capacitive and pseudocapacitive elements at the molecular level. The ratio of EDL capacitive element to pseudocapacitive element (E-to-P) in the mesophase electrode materials was controlled by varying the PPy-to-graphite weight (Pw/Gw) ratio and by heat treatment (TH), which was demonstrated by characterizing the CGPNHs with elemental analysis, cyclic voltammetry, and a charge/discharge test. The concept of the E-to-P ratio (EPR) index was first proposed to easily identify the capacitive characteristics of the mesophase electrode using a numerical algorithm, which was reasonably consistent with the experimental findings. Finally, the CGPNHs were integrated into symmetric two-electrode capacitor cells, which rendered excellent energy and power densities in both aqueous and ionic liquid electrolytes. It is anticipated that our approach could be widely extended to fabricating versatile hybrid electrode materials with estimation of their capacitive characteristics.