Hierarchical Porous Carbon Spheres for High-Performance Na–O<inf>2</inf> Batteries

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Journal Article
Advanced Materials, 2017, 29 (48)
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© 2017 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim As a new family member of room-temperature aprotic metal–O2 batteries, Na–O2 batteries, are attracting growing attention because of their relatively high theoretical specific energy and particularly their uncompromised round-trip efficiency. Here, a hierarchical porous carbon sphere (PCS) electrode that has outstanding properties to realize Na–O2 batteries with excellent electrochemical performances is reported. The controlled porosity of the PCS electrode, with macropores formed between PCSs and nanopores inside each PCS, enables effective formation/decomposition of NaO2 by facilitating the electrolyte impregnation and oxygen diffusion to the inner part of the oxygen electrode. In addition, the discharge product of NaO2 is deposited on the surface of individual PCSs with an unusual conformal film-like morphology, which can be more easily decomposed than the commonly observed microsized NaO2 cubes in Na–O2 batteries. A combination of coulometry, X-ray diffraction, and in situ differential electrochemical mass spectrometry provides compelling evidence that the operation of the PCS-based Na–O2 battery is underpinned by the formation and decomposition of NaO2. This work demonstrates that employing nanostructured carbon materials to control the porosity, pore-size distribution of the oxygen electrodes, and the morphology of the discharged NaO2 is a promising strategy to develop high-performance Na–O2 batteries.
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