Ionic Liquid Structure and Dynamics at Charged Graphene Interface

Tuesday, October 13, 2015: 15:10
101-C (Phoenix Convention Center)
A. Uysal (Argonne National Laboratory)
Supercapacitors with room temperature ionic liquid (RTIL) electrolytes and graphene-based electrodes are promising candidates for small electronic devices, especially flexible and wearable ones. The theoretical upper limit for the electric double layer (EDL) capacitance of graphene is the highest in all carbon materials. Also, graphene-based electrodes open up novel designs that are free of binders and inert conductive additives [1]. Furthermore, RTILs stand out as safe, non-volatile electrolytes with a wide potential window. However, our knowledge of these highly dense ionic plasmas at electrified interfaces is still at its infancy due to the lack of in situ experimental data about their potential-dependent EDL structures and dynamics [2].

Here, we use in situ real-time X-ray reflectivity integrated with fully atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to elucidate the interfacial ionic liquid structure and dynamics at epitaxial graphene electrode during cyclic voltammetry and potential steps [3]. Our results suggest that the graphene-RTIL interfacial structure is bistable in which the EDL structure at any intermediate potential can be described by the combination of two extreme-potential structures whose proportions vary depending on the polarity and magnitude of the applied potential. This picture is supported by the EDL structures obtained by MD simulations at various static potentials [4]. The potential-driven transition between the two structures is characterized by an energy barrier (~0.15 eV) that is independent of temperature. The model nicely explains the coexistence of distinct anion and cation adsorbed structures and provides further insights to ultra-slow response of the interfacial structure to potential steps.


1- Y. Shao et al. Chemical Society Reviews DOI:10.1039/C4CS00316K (2015)

2- M. Fedorov and A. Kornyshev. Chemical Reviews 114, 2978-3036 (2014)

3- A. Uysal et al. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 118, 569-574 (2014)

4- A. Uysal et al. Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, 27, 032101 (2015)

* This effort was supported as part of the Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport (FIRST) Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.  The research described here was done in collaboration with S. S. Lee, H. Zhou, P. Fenter (Argonne National Laboratory), G. Feng, S. Li, P. Cummings (Vanderbilt University), P. Fulvio, P. Zhang, S. Dai (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), J. McDonough, Y. Gogotsi (Drexel University)