Nitrogen-doped and carbon-coated activated carbon as a conductivity additive-free electrode for supercapacitors

Su Jin Jang, Jeong Han Lee, Seo Hui Kang, Yun Chan Kang, Kwang Chul Roh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of supercapacitors with high volumetric capacitance and high-rate performance has been an important research topic. Activated carbon (AC), which is a widely used material for supercapacitor electrodes, has different surface structures, porosities, and electrochemical properties. However, the low conductivity of the electrode material is a major problem for the efficient use of AC in supercapacitors. To tackle this challenge, we prepared conductive, additive-free electrodes for supercapacitors by a simple one-pot treatment of AC with melamine (nitrogen source), pitch, and sucrose (both carbon source). Nitrogen-doped and carbon-coated AC was successfully generated after high-temperature heat treatment. The AC was doped with approximately 0.5 at.% nitrogen, and coated with carbon leading to a decreased oxygen content. Thin carbon layers (~10 nm) were coated onto the outer surface of the AC, as shown in TEM images. The modification of the AC surface with a sucrose source is favorable, as it increases the electrical conductivity of AC up to 3.0 S cm−1, which is 4.3 times higher than in unmodified AC. The electrochemical performance of the modified AC was evaluated by conducting agent-free electrode. Although the obtained samples had slightly reduced surface areas after the surface modification, they maintained a high specific surface area of 1700 m2 g−1 . The supercapacitor delivered a specific capacitance of 70.4 F cc−1 at 1 mA cm−1 and achieved 89.8% capacitance retention even at a high current density of 50 mA cm−2 . Furthermore, the supercapacitor delivered a high energy density of 24.5 Wh kg−1 at a power density of 4650 W kg−1 . This approach can be extended for a new strategy for conductivity additive-free electrodes in, e.g., supercapacitors, batteries, and fuel cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7629
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov 1


  • Activated carbon
  • Carbon coating
  • Conductive additive-free
  • Nitrogen-doped
  • Supercapacitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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