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The on-demand engineering of metal-doped porous carbon nanofibers as efficient bifunctional oxygen catalysts for high-performance flexible Zn–air batteries

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Abstract

Developing efficient bifunctional oxygen electrocatalysts is an essential step in the realization of flexible metal–air batteries to power emerging flexible electronics. Herein, we use a dual-functional metal template to achieve the on-demand control of dispersed active M–N–C sites, porous structures, and surface wettability in a carbon nanofiber catalyst. The resulting engineered carbon nanofibers possess a high surface area (612.2 m2 g−1), greatly improved accessibility to active catalytic sites, excellent surface hydrophilicity, and enhanced Fe(Co)–Nx/C interactions, demonstrating excellent bifunctional catalytic activities for both oxygen reduction and evolution reactions with long-term stability. When employed in air electrodes for aqueous rechargeable Zn–air batteries (ZABs), the ZABs show a high specific capacity (740 mA h gZn−1), excellent rate capabilities, and, in particular, exceptional cycling stability over 2000 cycles. Furthermore, flexible ZABs fabricated using air electrodes containing this catalyst and a hydrogel electrolyte demonstrate outstanding performance, with a high open circuit potential (1.42 V), large peak power density (188.6 mW cm−2), high specific capacity (647 mA h gZn−1), excellent round-trip efficiency of >64% over 500 cycles, and performance retention under various mechanical deformation processes. This unique and tunable carbon nanofiber engineering approach can create noble-metal-free high-performance bifunctional oxygen catalysts, outperforming Pt/C–IrO2 and bringing us one step closer to realizing a reliable energy storage solution for future flexible electronics.

Graphical abstract: The on-demand engineering of metal-doped porous carbon nanofibers as efficient bifunctional oxygen catalysts for high-performance flexible Zn–air batteries

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Article information


Submitted
13 Dec 2019
Accepted
14 Mar 2020
First published
17 Mar 2020

J. Mater. Chem. A, 2020, Advance Article
Article type
Paper

The on-demand engineering of metal-doped porous carbon nanofibers as efficient bifunctional oxygen catalysts for high-performance flexible Zn–air batteries

K. N. Dinh, Z. Pei, Z. Yuan, V. C. Hoang, L. Wei, Q. Huang, X. Liao, C. Liu, Y. Chen and Q. Yan, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2020, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C9TA13651G

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