Supermolecule-mediated defect engineering of porous carbons for zinc-ion hybrid capacitors

Wenli Zhang, Jian Yin, Wenbin Jian, Ying Wu, Liheng Chen, Minglei Sun, Udo Schwingenschlögl, Xueqing Qiu, Husam N. Alshareef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Zinc ion hybrid capacitors hold great potential for future energy storage that requires both high energy density and high power capability. However, the charge storage mechanism of porous carbon cathode is ambiguous in Zn2+ ion-containing aqueous solutions, albeit porous carbon usually stores charge by electric double-layer capacitance. Herein, we developed a supermolecule-mediated direct pyrolysis carbonization strategy to convert sustainable sodium lignosulfonate resources into three-dimensional highly heteroatom-doped porous carbons with large mesopores. Through this strategy, we obtained lignin-derived porous carbons with high heteroatom dopings (14.9 at% nitrogen and 4.7 at% oxygen) and relatively high specific surface areas. Furthermore, the nitrogen doping configurations were mainly edge-nitrogen dopants even under high pyrolysis temperatures (> 900 °C). Lignin-derived nitrogen-doped porous carbon showed a high gravimetric specific capacitance of 266 F g−1 with high rate capability, which is endowed by the increased surface pseudocapacitance. First-principles calculations and molecular dynamics simulations indicate that the edge nitrogen and oxygen dopants contribute to the reversible adsorption/desorption of zinc ions and protons. Pores size less than 6.8 Å can cause a significant diffusion energy barrier for the hydrated zinc ions, thus degrading the capacitance and rate capability.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107827
JournalNano Energy
StatePublished - Sep 23 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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