Research Article

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2019, 12(1): 33–39

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https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-018-2172-z

Two-in-one solution using insect wings to produce graphene-graphite films for efficient electrocatalysis

Huaiyu Li1,§, Lihan Zhang1,§, Long Li1,§, Chaowen Wu1,§, Yajiao Huo1, Ying Chen1, Xijun Liu1 (*), Xiaoxing Ke2 (*), Jun Luo1 (*), and Gustaaf Van Tendeloo3,4

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1 Center for Electron Microscopy, TUT–FEI Joint Lab, Tianjin Key Lab of Advanced Functional Porous Materials, Institute for New Energy Materials & Low-Carbon Technologies, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Tianjin University of Technology, Tianjin 300384, China
2 Institute of Microstructure and Property of Advanced Materials, Beijing University of Technology, Beijing 100124, China
3 EMAT, Electron Microscopy for Materials Science, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium
4 Nanostructure Research Centre, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China
§ Huaiyu Li, Lihan Zhang, Long Li, and Chaowen Wu contributed equally to this work.

Keywords: insect wings, graphene, graphite, oxygen reduction reaction, electrocatalysts
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ABSTRACT Natural organisms contain rich elements and naturally optimized smart structures, both of which have inspired various innovative concepts and designs in human society. In particular, several natural organisms have been used as element sources to synthesize low-cost and environmentally friendly electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cells and metal–air batteries, which are clean energy devices. However, to date, no naturally optimized smart structures have been employed in the synthesis of ORR catalysts, including graphene-based materials. Here, we demonstrate a novel strategy to synthesize graphene–graphite films (GGFs) by heating butterfly wings coated with FeCl3 in N2, in which the full power of natural organisms is utilized. The wings work not only as an element source for GGF generation but also as a porous supporting structure for effective nitrogen doping, two-dimensional spreading, and double-face exposure of the GGFs. These GGFs exhibit a half-wave potential of 0.942 V and a H2O2 yield of < 0.07% for ORR electrocatalysis; these values are comparable to those for the best commercial Pt/C and all previously reported ORR catalysts in alkaline media. This two-in-one strategy is also successful with cicada and dragonfly wings, indicating that it is a universal, green, and cost-effective method for developing high-performance graphene-based materials.
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Two-in-one solution using insect wings to produce graphene-graphite films for efficient electrocatalysis. Nano Res. 2019, 12(1): 33–39 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-018-2172-z

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