Enhancing fullerene–graphene nanocarbon networks for energy storage and harvesting

ACS journal cover of [60]fullerene monoadduct physisorbed on a graphene network (Download Image)

An artistic rendering of a [60]fullerene monoadduct physisorbed on a graphene network.

Lawrence Livermore researchers and collaborators at the University of Texas at El Paso have developed a concept that allows the integration of the characteristic properties of fullerene in 3D graphene networks. In the study, the team optimized the interaction between 3D graphene networks and fullerenes, specifically in the context of stability and charge transfer in an electrochemical environment. In such a system, graphene provides high electrical conductivity and surface area, while fullerenes add high electron affinity.

Guided by a combination of experiments and first-principles calculations, the team designed, synthesized, and tested a carbon 60 (C60) monoadduct that improved the electrochemical stability of fullerene-functionalized graphene. As an experimental platform, they used binder-free 3D mesoporous graphene macro-assemblies (GMAs) that had exceptionally high surface area (up to 1500 m2/g) and excellent conductivity (up to 100 Siemens per meter). The use of C60 allowed the team to reduce fullerene clustering and increase the electrochemical stability of the nanocarbon networks.

Their results demonstrate that the capacity of the 3D graphene network is significantly improved by the addition of C60 and C60 monoadducts. The research, which received Laboratory Directed Research and Development program support (17-ERD-017), is expected to benefit the integration of fullerene–graphene hybrid materials in solar cell and charge storage applications.

The research was featured on the cover of the August 14, 2019, edition of ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

[M.R. Cerón, C. Zhan, P.G. Campbell, M.C. Freyman, C. Santoyo, L. Echegoyen, B.C. Wood, J. Biener, T.A. Pham, and M.M. Biener, Integration of Fullerenes as Electron Acceptors in 3D Graphene Networks: Enhanced Charge Transfer and Stability through Molecular DesignACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, available online on July 11, 2019, doi: 10.1021/acsami.9b06681.]