Significantly enhanced charge conduction in electric double layer capacitors using carbon nanotube-grafted activated carbon electrodes
Carbon nanotube (CNT)-grafting by chemical vapor deposition was conducted to reduce the resistance of activated carbon fiber serving as an electrode for electric double layer capacitors. Sputtering deposition of Ni catalyst particles led to a uniform growth of CNTs on the carbon fiber surface through the tip-growth mechanism. Because sputtering deposition ensures little pore blockage (in comparison with wet-impregnation), the surface area decrease of the carbon fiber due to Ni loading was minimized. By using H 2SO 4 aqueous solution as the electrolyte, a capacitor cell assembled with the CNT-grafted fiber showed higher electron and electrolyte-ion conductivities relative to a cell assembled with the bare fiber. By increasing the discharging current density from 1 to 150 mA cm -2, the bare fiber exhibited a capacitance loss of 17% while the CNT-grafted fiber showed a mitigated capacitance loss of only 7%. This developed CNT-grafting technique renders activated carbon fiber a promising electrode material for a variety of electrochemical applications.