Clean Technology 2009

A Versatile Electrode Technology for Energy Storage and Conversion

M.G Norton, D.N. McIlroy, G. Corti, T. Cantrell, M.F. Beaux, T. Prakash
GoNano Technologies, Inc, US

Keywords: electrodes, ultracapacitors, batteries, nanostructures


Electrodes are a key component of many energy storage and conversion devices. In ultracapacitors, the electrode determines energy density and operating cell voltage. The widespread use of ultracapacitors has been limited by the less than theoretical specific capacitance and associated low energy densities achieved with activated carbon and their relatively high cost. In dye-sensitized nanocrystalline solar cells, titanium dioxide nanoparticles in contact with a transparent conductor form one electrode. Cell efficiency requires that the TiO2 nanoparticles be in the correct phase and the structure of the exposed crystal faces at the nanoscale also appears to be important. One aspect common to all electrode technologies is the need to maximize accessible surface area. We have developed a low cost process to produce very large area mats of silica Nanosprings™ that provide a thermally and chemically stable support. The Nanosprings™ can be grown at temperatures as low as 300°C and can be formed on a range of flexible and rigid substrates. The Nanosprings™ surface can be functionalized with nanocrystalline oxides (e.g., ZnO, TiO2, CuO), activated and nanostructured carbons, and/or metal nanoparticles (e.g., Au, Pt, Pd). This process creates a suite of hierarchical three-dimensional nanostructures that can be engineered for specific electrode applications.
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