Pseudocapacitance and performance stability of quinone-coated carbon onions

Onion-like carbon, also known as carbon onions, is a highly conductive material enabling supercapacitor electrodes with a very high power density. However, the moderate specific capacitance (circa 30 F/g) is insufficient for many energy storage applications. In our study, we show how decoration of carbon onions with quinones provides a facile method to increase the energy density up to one order of magnitude, namely, from 0.5 Wh/kg to 4.5 Wh/kg, while retaining a high power density and long lifetime. We present data for carbon onions modified with three different kinds of quinones: 1,4-naphthoquinone, 9,10-phenanthrenequinone, and 4,5-pyrenedione. Quinone-decorated carbon onion electrodes are investigated considering the actual quinone loading and the resulting electrochemical performance is probed in 1 M H2SO4as the electrolyte using cyclic voltammetry and galvanostatic charge/discharge. The maximum capacitance, 264 F/g, is found for carbon onions modified with 4,5-pyrenedione, which also shows the smallest fade in specific capacitance, namely 3%, over 10,000 charge and discharge cycles at a high current density of 1.3 A/g.