Alternative to nitrogen: Oxygen plasma can improve the properties of electrode materials

June 25, 2020

A group of scientists from Skoltech and Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) showed that nitrogen is not the only element that can help enhance the specific capacitance of supercapacitors.

The advancement of renewable energy sources calls for new materials with enhanced electrochemical performance. Electrodes in electrochemical current sources are most often made of carbon. The properties of carbons are improved using a whole panoply of surface modification techniques, such as adding metal oxides, creating multilayer coatings or expanding the specific surface area. Incorporating the doping atoms of nitrogen, fluorine, chlorine and other elements in the carbon lattice is a recent trend in surface modification that dramatically alters the material's electrochemical characteristics without "contaminating" the electrolyte solution during charging and discharging.

Earlier, Skoltech scientists showed that embedding nitrogen into the carbon lattice multiplies the electrochemical capacitance. Recently, the same team from the Skoltech Center for Design, Manufacturing and Materials (CDMM) and their colleagues from MSU have looked into the effect of nitrogen and oxygen heteroatoms on the material's electrochemical characteristics.

"We modified the carbon materials' surface using DC plasma in atmospheres of nitrogen, oxygen, and their mixture, so as to implant oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the carbon lattice. By changing the plasma contents, one can control surface functionalization," explains Stanislav Evlashin, the first author of the paper and a senior research scientist at Skoltech.

Modifying the carbon lattice by other atoms disrupts its structure and makes it less "perfect", which leads to a change in the electrochemical characteristics.

Electrochemical measurements in an acidic medium revealed the highest oxygen content and electrochemical capacitance in the samples modified in oxygen plasma. The results of the study suggest that nitrogen is not the only enhancer of the supercapacitors' specific capacitance and oxygen is sometimes even more effective. The scientists attribute the result both to surface functionalization (i.e. imparting new properties to the surface) and the changes in the crystal lattice. Unlike nitrogen, oxygen is much easier to insert in the crystal lattice.

The scientists' findings will contribute to the development of new generation supercapacitors.

Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech)

Related Nitrogen Articles from Brightsurf:

Chemistry: How nitrogen is transferred by a catalyst
Catalysts with a metal-nitrogen bond can transfer nitrogen to organic molecules.

Illinois research links soil nitrogen levels to corn yield and nitrogen losses
What exactly is the relationship between soil nitrogen, corn yield, and nitrogen loss?

Reducing nitrogen with boron and beer
The industrial conversion of nitrogen to ammonium provides fertiliser for agriculture.

New nitrogen products are in the air
A nifty move with nitrogen has brought the world one step closer to creating a range of useful products -- from dyes to pharmaceuticals -- out of thin air.

'Black nitrogen'
In the periodic table of elements there is one golden rule for carbon, oxygen, and other light elements.

A deep dive into better understanding nitrogen impacts
This special issue presents a selection of 13 papers that advance our understanding of cascading consequences of reactive nitrogen species along their emission, transport, deposition, and the impacts in the atmosphere.

How does an increase in nitrogen application affect grasslands?
The 'PaNDiv' experiment, established by researchers of the University of Bern on a 3000 m2 field site, is the largest biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiment in Switzerland and aims to better understand how increases in nitrogen affect grasslands.

Reducing reliance on nitrogen fertilizers with biological nitrogen fixation
Crop yields have increased substantially over the past decades, occurring alongside the increasing use of nitrogen fertilizer.

Flushing nitrogen from seawater-based toilets
With about half the world's population living close to the coast, using seawater to flush toilets could be possible with a salt-tolerant bacterium.

We must wake up to devastating impact of nitrogen, say scientists
More than 150 top international scientists are calling on the world to take urgent action on nitrogen pollution, to tackle the widespread harm it is causing to humans, wildlife and the planet.

Read More: Nitrogen News and Nitrogen Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to