Research Article

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2021, 14(12): 4664–4673

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https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-021-3399-7

Carbon nanosheets derived from reconstructed lignin for potassium and sodium storage with low voltage hysteresis

Keren Jiang, Xuehai Tan, Shengli Zhai, Ken Cadien, and Zhi Li (✉)

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Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 1H9, Canada

Keywords: lignin, batteries, polarization, voltage hysteresis, ring-forming defects
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Lignin is the second most abundant and the only nature polymer rich in aromatic units. Although aromatic-unit-rich precursors often yield soft carbon after carbonization, the side chains in lignin crosslink with the aromatic units and form a rigid three-dimensional (3D) structure which eventually leads to hard carbons. Through a graphene oxide-catalyzed decomposition and repolymerization process, we successfully reconstructed lignin by partially tailoring the side chains. Compared to directly carbonized lignin, the carbonized reconstructed lignin possesses significantly fewer defects, 86% fewer oxygen-functionalities, 82% fewer micropores, and narrower interlayer space. These parameters can be tuned by the amount of catalysts (graphene oxide). When tested as anode for K-ion and Na-ion batteries, the carbonized reconstructed lignin delivers notably higher capacity at low-potential range (especially for Na-storage), shows much-improved performance at high current density, and most importantly, reduces voltage hysteresis between discharge and charge process by more than 50%, which is critical to the energy efficiency of the energy storage system. Our study reveals that the voltage hysteresis in K-storage is much severer than that in Na-storage for all samples. For practical K-ion battery applications, the voltage hysteresis deserves more attention in future electrode materials design and the reconstruct ion strategy introduced in this work provides potential low-cost solution.
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Carbon nanosheets derived from reconstructed lignin for potassium and sodium storage with low voltage hysteresis. Nano Res. 2021, 14(12): 4664–4673 https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-021-3399-7

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