Flexible and Self-Healing Aqueous Supercapacitors for Low Temperature Applications: Polyampholyte Gel Electrolytes with Biochar Electrodes

Xinda Li, Li Liu, Xianzong Wang, Yong Sik Ok, Janet A.W. Elliott, Scott X. Chang, Hyun Joong Chung

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Abstract

A flexible and self-healing supercapacitor with high energy density in low temperature operation was fabricated using a combination of biochar-based composite electrodes and a polyampholyte hydrogel electrolyte. Polyampholytes, a novel class of tough hydrogel, provide self-healing ability and mechanical flexibility, as well as low temperature operation for the aqueous electrolyte. Biochar is a carbon material produced from the low-temperature pyrolysis of biological wastes; the incorporation of reduced graphene oxide conferred mechanical integrity and electrical conductivity and hence the electrodes are called biochar-reduced-graphene-oxide (BC-RGO) electrodes. The fabricated supercapacitor showed high energy density of 30 Wh/kg with ~90% capacitance retention after 5000 charge-discharge cycles at room temperature at a power density of 50 W/kg. At -30 °C, the supercapacitor exhibited an energy density of 10.5 Wh/kg at a power density of 500 W/kg. The mechanism of the low-temperature performance excellence is likely to be associated with the concept of non-freezable water near the hydrophilic polymer chains, which can motivate future researches on the phase behaviour of water near polyampholyte chains. We conclude that the combination of the BC-RGO electrode and the polyampholyte hydrogel electrolyte is promising for supercapacitors for flexible electronics and for low temperature environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1685
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

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