Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Multi-functional energy conversion and storage electrodes using flower-like (Zinc oxide) nanostructures

Publication date: Available online 8 January 2014
Author(s): Valentina Cauda , Diego Pugliese , Nadia Garino , Adriano Sacco , Stefano Bianco , Federico Bella , Andrea Lamberti , Claudio Gerbaldi
In the present paper we demonstrate the efficient use of shape controlled flower-like ZnO (Zinc oxide) nanostructured particles as multifunctional electrode for both energy conversion and storage applications, i.e. Dye-sensitized Solar Cells (DSCs) and lithium-ion batteries. As regards DSC (Dye-sensitized Solar Cell) device, ZnO flower-like particles, prepared by a simple, low-cost and reliable hydrothermal method under mild reaction temperature, are efficiently used as photoanode in a microfluidic architectured cell in combination with NMBI (N-methylbenzimidazole), employed as additive of the electrolytic solution for the first time in a ZnO-based DSC. We obtain a remarkable sunlight conversion efficiency of 3.6%. As regards storage applications, a stable long-term ambient temperature cycling behavior in lithium cell is demonstrated, even at increasingly higher currents. Remarkable charge-discharge efficiency and specific capacity are obtained up to 200 cycles, which is the highest number of cycles reported so far for similar systems. Noteworthy, such results are achieved without the addition of foreign additives, nor during the synthesis process neither during the electrode preparation, and also no carbon coating on ZnO surface is used. The originality of the present paper consists not only in showing for the first time the efficient operation of such ZnO particles as anode in Li-ion batteries for prolonged cycling, but also in demonstrating the versatile and multifunctional use of the same material for two different energy related applications. The reported results enlighten indeed the promising prospects of the flower-like ZnO nanostructured material for the successful implementation as stable and long-term performing anodic material in the next generation of both energy conversion and storage devices.

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