Controlled porosity carbons aerogels were synthesized by sol–gel polycondensation of resorcinol (R) and formaldehyde (F) using sodium-carbonate as the catalyst (C). The Effect of variation of R/C ratio and carbonization temperature on the porous structure of resultant gels and carbons was investigated by characterizing the porous structure of the materials using nitrogen adsorption–desorption measurements at 77 K. It was shown that carbons with surface areas ranging between 537 and 687 m2 g−1 and average pore size in the range of 1.80–4.62 nm can be produced when controlling the resorcinol to catalyst (R/C) molar ratio between 100 and 500 and carbonization temperature in the range of 800–1000 °C. The resultant polymeric carbons were used as the electroactive material for the fabrication of electrodes for electrochemical cells. Contact angle measurements were performed to study the wettability of the electrodes using 6 M KOH as the probing liquid. The contact angles were in the range of 106°–125° indicating the carbon based electrodes are hydrophobic in nature and no significant change in contact angles was observed with the change in R/C ratio. XRD patterns of the carbon electrodes show a typical broad peak at 2θ of about 23 indicating a disordered structure corresponding to the amorphous nature of the materials as expected for polymeric based hard carbons with crosslinked structure. These results are in line with Raman spectra of carbons which indicate two peaks in 1590 cm−1 and 1340 cm−1 wavenumber. The electrochemical performance of the electrodes was investigated by cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) measurements. The CV results showed that high specific capacitance of 136 Fg−1 can be achieved for the carbon with average pore diameter of 1.80 nm at a scan rate of 5 mV s−1 when using 6M KOH as the electrolyte. Electrochemical impedance (EIS) measurements also revealed that the capacitance of the cell deteriorates with increase in pore size of the carbon probably due to pore flooding by the electrolyte. The results of this study show the applicability of these carbons as potential electrode materials for supercapacitor applications.
- Electrochemical measurements
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- School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences - Senior Lecturer