Borophene, a boron analogue of graphene, exhibits a rich variety of chemical and physical properties. Here, we provide an intensive overview of recent progress in theoretical modeling and experimental synthesis of borophene. In particular, we analyze the influence of substrate, growth temperature, and precursor on the selectivity of boron nucleation. While three-dimensional (3D) bulk boron is more stable than a two-dimensional (2D) boron sheet, the nucleation barrier determined by the growth process controls the formation of the material and it depends on the specific growth environment. Theoretical studies have shown that a metal substrate can play an important role in stabilizing 2D boron clusters over their 3D form, resulting in the kinetically favored growth of 2D boron on the substrate even though the 2D boron clusters will be overwhelmingly less stable than the 3D form with increasing cluster size. Ag and Cu substrates have proven to be particularly suitable for achieving this preference. Guided by theoretical works and perhaps original insights, experimentalists from two independent groups have successfully synthesized 2D boron sheets on silver substrates by depositing ultra-high purity boron onto a clean Ag (111) surface under high vacuum conditions. Moreover, the borophene samples were found to exhibit the same atomic structure previously predicted to be preferred on this substrate. Besides the substrate, the growth temperature is also key to the final product. When the temperature is too low, boron growth cannot overcome the nucleation barrier of the 2D structure. As a result, boron clusters or amorphous boron structures are likely to be formed. In contrast, an excessively high growth temperature will steer the growth to overcome the nucleation barrier of 3D boron, possibly yielding boron nanofilms with finite thickness. Therefore, the growth temperature needs to be carefully controlled, so that the free energy of boron growth will be located between the nucleation barriers of the 3D and 2D forms. Some impurity elements found in synthetic source materials, such as hydrogen and oxygen, can also impact boron nucleation. The existence of these elements may alter the competition between 2D and 3D structures during the nucleation process. More importantly, hydrogen and oxygen can passivate the dangling bonds on the surface of a 3D boron structure, lowering its surface energy, and therefore, impairing the nucleation of 2D boron structures. At present, molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) is the only method with which borophene has been successfully synthesized. Yet this method is very expensive, suffers from low yield, and is constrained to small sample sizes. Thus, exploring the growth of borophene via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on different substrates is critically important for realizing the great potential of borophene in various applications. By discussing possible growth conditions and atomistic mechanisms of borophene nucleation as well as theoretical methods for modeling and simulations, we suggest prospects for chemical vapor deposition growth of borophene on selected substrates. This work aims to offer useful guidance for chemical synthesis of large-area, high-quality borophenes and promote their practical applications.
Carbon atoms can bond together in different molecular configurations leading to different carbon allotropes including diamond, fullerene, carbon nanotubes, graphene, and graphdiyne that are widely used or explored in a number of fields. Carbon dots (CDs), which are generally surface-passivated carbon nanoparticles less than 10 nm in size, are other new members of carbon allotropes. CDs were serendipitously discovered in 2004 during the electrophoresis purification of single-walled carbon nanotubes. Similar to their popular older cousins, fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and graphene, CDs have drawn much attention in the past decade and have gradually become a rising star because of the advantages of chemical inertness, high abundance, good biocompatibility, and low toxicity. Interestingly, CDs typically display excitation-energy- and size-dependent fluorescent behavior. Depending on their structures, the fluorescence from CDs is either attributed to the quantum-confinement effect and conjugated π-domains of the carbogenic core (intrinsic states), or determined by the hybridization of the carbon skeleton and the connected chemical groups (surface states). Compared with the traditional semiconductors, quantum dots, and their organic dye counterparts, fluorescent CDs possess not only excellent optical properties and small-size effect, but also the advantages of low-cost synthesis, good photo-bleaching resistance, tunable band gaps, and surface functionalities. For these reasons, CDs are considered to be emergent nanolights for bio-imaging, sensing, and optoelectronic devices. Additionally, CDs feature abundant structural defects at their surface and edges, excellent light-harvesting capability, and photo-induced electron-transfer ability, thus facilitating their applications in photocatalysis and energy storage and conversions. To date, remarkable progress has been achieved in terms of synthetic approaches, properties, and applications of CDs. This review aims to classify the different types of CDs, based on the structures of their carbogenic cores, and to describe their structural characteristics in terms of synthesis approaches. Two well-established strategies for synthesizing CDs, the top-down and bottom-up routes, are highlighted. The diverse potential applications, in the bio-imaging and diagnosis, sensing, catalysis, optoelectronics, and energy-storage fields, of CDs with different structures and physicochemical properties, are summarized, covering the issues of surface modification, heteroatom doping, and hybrids made by combining CDs with other species such as metals, metal oxides, and biological molecules. The challenges and opportunities for the future development of CDs are also briefly outlined.
Catalytic CO2 hydrogenation to methanol is a promising route to mitigate the negative effects of anthropogenic CO2. To develop an efficient Pd/ZnO catalyst, increasing the contact between Pd and ZnO is of the utmost importance, because "naked" Pd favors CO production via the reverse water-gas shift path. Here, we have utilized a ZnO@ZIF-8 core-shell structure to synthesize Pd/ZnO catalysts via Pd immobilization and calcination. The merit of this method is that the porous outer layer can offer abundant "guest rooms" for Pd, ensuring intimate contact between Pd and the post-generated ZnO. The synthesized Pd/ZnO catalysts (PZZ8-T, T denotes the temperature of calcination in degree Celsius) is compared with a ZnO nanorod-immobilized Pd catalyst (PZ). When the catalytic reaction was performed at lower reaction temperatures (250, 270, and 290 ℃), the highest methanol space time yield (STY) and highest STY per Pd achieved by PZ at 290 ℃ were 0.465 g gcat-1 h-1 and 13.0 g gPd-1 h-1, respectively. However, all the PZZ8-T catalysts exhibited methanol selectivity values greater than 67.0% at 290 ℃, in sharp contrast to a methanol selectivity value of 32.8% for PZ at the same temperature. Thus, we performed additional investigations of the PZZ8-T catalysts at 310 and 360 ℃, which are unusually high temperatures for CO2 hydrogenation to methanol because the required endothermic reaction is expected to be severely inhibited at such high temperatures. Interestingly, the PZZ8-T catalysts were observed to achieve a methanol selectivity value of approximately 60% at 310 ℃, and PZZ8-400 was observed to maintain a methanol selectivity value of 51.9% even at a temperature of 360 ℃. Thus, PZZ8-400 attains the highest methanol STY of 0.571 g gcat-1 h-1at 310 ℃. For a better understanding of the structure-performance relationship, we characterized the catalysts using different techniques, focusing especially on the surface properties. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) results indicated a linear relationship between the methanol selectivity and the surface PdZn : Pd ratio, proving that the surface PdZn phase is the active site for CO2 hydrogenation to methanol. Furthermore, analysis of the XPS O 1s spectrum together with the electronic paramagnetic resonance results revealed that both, the oxygen vacancy as well as the ZnO polar surface, played important roles in CO2 activation. Chemisorption techniques provided further quantitative and qualitative information regarding the Pd-ZnO interface that is closely related to the CO2 conversion rate. We believe that our results can provide insight into the catalytic reaction of CO2 hydrogenation from the perspective of surface science. In addition, this work is an illustrative example of the use of novel chemical structures in the fabrication of superior catalysts using a traditional formula.
Ternary blends have been considered as an effective approach to improve power conversion efficiency (PCE) of organic solar cells (OSCs). Among them, the fullerene-containing ternary OSCs have been studied extensively, and their PCEs are as high as over 14%. However, all non-fullerene acceptor ternary OSCs are still limited by their relatively lower PCEs. In this work, we used wide-bandgap benzodithiophene-difluorobenzotriazole copolymer FTAZ as the donor, low-bandgap fused-ring electron acceptor (FREA), fused tris(thieno- thiophene) end-capped by fluorinated 1, 1-dicyanomethylene-3-indanone (FOIC) as acceptor, and two medium-bandgap FREAs, indaceno-dithiophene end- capped by 1, 1-dicyanomethylene-3-indanone (IDT-IC) and indacenodithiophene end-capped by 1, 1-dicyanomethylene-3-benzoindanone (IDT-NC), as the third components to fabricate the ternary blends FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-IC and FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-NC, and investigated the effects of the third components on the performance of ternary OSCs. Both IDT-IC and IDT-NC are based on the same indacenodithiophene core but contain different terminal groups (phenyl and naphthyl). Relative to IDT-IC with phenyl terminal groups, IDT-NC with naphthyl terminal groups has extended π-conjugation, down-shifted lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO), red-shifted absorption and higher electron mobility. The binary devices based on the FTAZ:FOIC, FTAZ:IDT-IC and FTAZ:IDT-NC blends exhibit PCEs of 9.73%, 7.48% and 7.68%, respectively. Compared with corresponding binary devices, both ternary devices based on FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-IC and FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-NC exhibit better photovoltaic performances. When the IDT-IC weight ratio in acceptors is 50%, the FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-IC ternary devices exhibit the best PCE of 11.2%. The ternary-blend OSCs yield simultaneously improved open-circuit voltage (VOC), short-circuit current density (JSC) and fill factor (FF) compared with the binary devices based on FTAZ:FOIC. The higher VOC is attributed to the higher LUMO energy level of IDT-IC compared with FOIC. The improved JSC is attributed to the complementary absorption of FOIC and IDT-IC. The introduction of IDT-IC improves blend morphology and charge transport, leading to higher FF. The FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-NC system yields a higher PCE of 10.4% relative to the binary devices based on FTAZ:FOIC as the active layer. However, the PCE of the FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-NC-based ternary devices is lower than that of the FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-IC-based ternary devices. Compared with the binary devices based on FTAZ:FOIC, in FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-NC-based ternary devices, as the ratio of the third component increases, the VOC increases due to the higher LUMO energy level of IDT-NC, the FF increases due to optimized morphology and improved charge transport, while the JSC decreases due to the overlapped absorption of FOIC and IDT-NC. The terminal groups in the third components affect the performance of the ternary OSCs. The lower LUMO. energy level of IDT-NC is responsible for the lower VOC of the FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-NC devices. The red-shifted absorption of IDT-NC leads to the overlapping of the absorption spectra of IDT-NC and FOIC and lower JSC. On the other hand, replacing the phenyl terminal groups by the naphthyl terminal groups influences the π-π packing and charge transport. The FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-NC blend exhibits higher electron mobility and more balanced charge transport than FTAZ:FOIC:IDT-IC, leading to a higher FF.
Since the rediscovery of black phosphorus as a fascinating two-dimensional material, other two-dimensional materials comprising group VA elements have attracted tremendous interest, such as antimonene. Since 2015, besides intensive research efforts on the atomic structures, electronic properties and synthesis methods of antimonene, scientists have conducted applied researches on semiconductor and nonlinear optical devices, molecular adsorption and thermoelectric applications based on antimonene. In addition, antimonene quantum dots (SbQDs) as derivatives of antimonene, have also been studied recently, and their potential applications in photothermal therapy have been reported. To further explore the unique properties and potential applicationsof SbQDs, it is important tosynthesize large amounts of high-quality SbQDs. In this work, antimonene samples were prepared by sonication-assisted liquid exfoliation method. Antimony powders (200 mg) were dispersed in 200 mL water, C2H5OH and 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) solvents separately and sonicated for 10 h at a power of 180 W. Thereafter, the suspensions were centrifuged at 6000 r∙min-1 for 20 min, and the supernatant containing antimonene samples were decanted and characterized. The dispersion concentration of antimonene samples in the three solvents (water, C2H5OH and NMP) were measured as 0.57, 1.04, and 4.27 µg∙mL-1, respectively. However, the antimonene concentrations in water, C2H5OH and NMP dropped by 73.7%, 30.8% and 10.5%, respectively, after standing for 96 h. Thus, antimonene dispersed in NMP demonstrated the highest concentration and best stability, which indicates that NMP is more suitable for antimonene exfoliation. Furthermore, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies revealed that only the samples prepared in NMP were morphologically quantum dots, while antimonene samples obtained in the other two solvents were mainly nanosheets. The obtained SbQDs in NMP had a lateral size of approximately 3.0 nm. High-resolution transmission electron microscope (HRTEM) also confirmed the good crystal quality of theobtained SbQDs. In addition, we measured the turbidities of antimonene dispersed in those three solvents at various concentrations. As theoretically predicted, the turbidity of antimonne dispersions linearly depends on the concentraion; thus, the antimonene concentrations can be calculated by measuring the turbidity through an optical method. Thus, this study provides a high-throughput, nondestructive method for determining antimonene dispersion concentration, which will faciliate further research in this area.
With the increasing energy demands and the limited petroleum reserves, it is highly desirable to produce fuels and chemicals from non-petroleum feedstocks, such as coal, natural gas and biomass. Catalytic conversion of C1 resources (CO, CO2, CH3OH, CH4, etc.) affords various products and attracts increasing attention from both academia and industries. Methane and methanol are important C1 feedstocks in the production of fuels and chemicals. In order to obtain high selectivity for the target product, it is necessary to control the activation of C―H bonds in methane and methanol. However, this remains a great challenge. Although the traditional thermal catalytic conversion of methane and methanol has been developed over decades, there are still some disadvantages associated with the catalytic process, such as harsh reaction conditions, high energy consumption, and low selectivity. Photocatalysis, which is driven by photoenergy, can compensate for the Gibbs free energy. In the photocatalytic reactions, semiconductor photocatalysts absorb photons and generate electrons and holes in their conduction and valence bands, respectively, to accelerate the reaction rate. The position of the conduction band determines the oxidation capacity, and the bandgap determines the light absorption property. Normally, the oxidation capacity of photocatalysts is regulated by choosing semiconductors with a suitable bandgap or anions/cations doping. Fabrication of heterojunction and loading metalsare recognized as effective methods to promote the separation of electron-hole pairs and improve the photocatalytic efficiency. In contrast to thermal catalysis, photocatalysis can be carried out under mild reaction conditions with low energy consumption. Recently, photocatalysis has been considered an attractive route for the efficient conversion of methane and methanol to fuels and chemicals. Partial oxidation of methane, which is necessary to avoid the formation of byproducts, can be achieved by adjusting the wavelength and intensity of the light and the oxidation capacity of the photocatalysts. In addition, light-induced plasmon resonance improves the efficiency of methane conversion by forming an intrinsic high-energy magnetic field that can polarize methane. In methanol conversion, the C―H bond can be selectively activated, instead of the O―H bond, by light irradiation. Therefore, C―C coupling can be realized for the production of various value-added chemicals from methanol. This review summarizes the recent advances in the photocatalytic conversion of methane and methanol including the reactions of reforming, oxidation, and coupling. Perspectives and challenges for further research on the photocatalytic conversion of methane and methanol are also discussed.
Two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) possess the potential to be widely applied in optoelectronic devices, sensors, photocatalysis, and many other fields because of their intrinsic physical, chemical, and mechanical properties. Generally, the van der Waals (vdW) heterostructures fabricated from these TMDs exhibit excellent electronic properties. However, the spectral responses of most vdW heterostructures are limited by the inherent band gaps; it is thus essential to tune the band gaps for specific applications. In this paper, we performed a first-principles theoretical study on the structures and properties of WX2 (X = S, Se, Te), as well as the vdW heterostructures WS2/WSe2, WS2/WTe2, and WSe2/WTe2. The impacts of the number of layers on the properties of WX2 and the strain on the band gaps of vdW heterostructures were demonstrated. We found that every monolayer WX2 (X = S, Se, Te) is a direct gap semiconductor, and as the number of layers increases, their band gaps decrease and they become indirect bandgap semiconductors. The spin-orbit coupling (SOC) effect on their band structures is significant and can decrease the band gap by approximately 300 meV compared with those that do no incorporate SOC effects. The properties of WX2 can be accurately described by the HSE06 + SOC approach. WS2/WSe2, WS2/WTe2, and WSe2/WTe2 heterostructures are direct gap semiconductors with band gaps of 1.10, 0.32, and 0.61 eV, respectively. These three heterostructures exhibit type-II band alignments, which facilitate photo-induced electron-hole separation. In addition, they have quite small electron and hole effective masses, indicating that the separated electrons and holes can move very quickly to reduce the recombination rate of electrons and holes. There is an explicit red-shift of the optical absorption spectra of the three heterostructures compared with those of the monolayer components, and the most obvious redshift occurs in WSe2/WTe2. Both uniaxial and biaxial strains can alter the band gaps of these vdW heterostructures. Once the strain exceeds 4%, a transition from semiconductor to metal characteristics occurs. This work provides a way to tune the electronic properties and band gaps of vdW heterostructures for incorporation in high-performance optoelectronic devices.
Normal alkyl sp3C―H bonds are ubiquitous in compounds such as methane, linear alkanes, and cycloalkanes that are not linked directly to heteroatoms or other functional groups. These unactivated bonds are not broken readily under mild conditions because their bond dissociation energy values are high and acidity values are low. Moreover, in the radical processes at high temperatures, reaction selectivity is not good for an alkane substrate with various alkyl sp3C―H bonds, which is commonly methyl < 1° < 2° < 3°. In the past five decades, C―H activation by transition-metal species to give C-metal bonds under mild conditions was intensively studied; all efforts were undertaken to provide new methods that can be applied in both chemical synthesis and chemical industry. However, the effective transformations of inert C―H bonds, particularly alkyl sp3C―H bonds, without the assistance of directing groups have been rarely investigated. This review focuses on the functionalization of normal alkyl sp3C―H bonds, such as methyl and primary sp3C―H bonds, via electrophilic activation or oxidative addition by using homogenous transition-metal catalysts, which are two main strategies in the study of inert C―H activation. The selectivity on C―H bond is methyl > 1° > 2° > 3° in both the reactions. Neither heterogeneous catalysis nor biocatalysis is mentioned in this review. Some remarkable progress is described on the study of reaction mechanisms and the establishment of novel reactions. For example, several selective oxidations of methane or linear alkanes have been introduced to afford new C―O, C―Cl, or even C―C bonds in the presence of Pt or Pd catalysts. The Shilov chemistry, which combines electrophilic activation of the C―H bond by the transition-metal complex, oxidation of the transition-metal intermediate, and nucleophilic substitution of organometallic species, has been emphasized in these reactions. Other transition-metal catalysts including Rh, Ir, Re, and W have been employed successfully in the carbonylation, borylation, and dehydrogenation of alkanes at moderate temperatures. The reaction pathways normally involve oxidative addition of the C―H bond with the transition-metal complex followed by insertion-elimination, reductive elimination, or β-H elimination. In the cascade reactions consisting of dehydrogenation of alkanes and addition of alkenes, new C―C or C―Si bonds can also be formed at terminal sites of linear alkanes. However, most of the above-mentioned reactions are still under investigation because of limited scope of the substrate, excess loading of the alkane, low efficiency of the catalyst, and high cost of the reaction operation. Breakthroughs in this promising field of alkane functionalization are possible when new concepts and technology are realized and applied.
Organic dyes, especially the harmful cationic dye methyl orange (MO), are emerging pollutants. The development of new materials for their efficient adsorption and removal is thus of great significance. Porous organic polymers (POPs) such as hyper-cross-linked polymers, covalent organic frameworks, conjugated microporous polymers, and polymers with intrinsic microporosity are a new class of materials constructed from organic molecular building blocks. To design POPs both with good porosity and task-specific functionalization is still a critical challenge. In this study, we have demonstrated a simple one-step method for the synthesis of the hyper-cross-linked aromatic triazine porous polymer (HAPP) via the Friedel-Crafts reaction. The resultant porous polymer was characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, elemental analysis (EA), thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA), solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (13C NMR), and nitrogen adsorption-desorption isotherms. The results show that HAPP is a rough, irregular morphology, porous organic polymer that is amorphous in nature. The novel polymer showed high Brunauer-Emmett-Teller surface area (of up to 104.36 m2∙g−1), porosity, and physicochemical stability. Owing to the presence of N heteroatom pore surfaces in the network, the material exhibited a maximum adsorption capacity of 249.3 mg∙g−1 for MO from aqueous solutions at room temperature. This is higher than that of some reported porous materials under the same conditions. To explain this phenomenon more clearly, theoretical quantum calculations were performed via the DFT method using Gaussian 09 software and Multiwfn version 3.4.1. It is performed to analyze the properties and electrostatic potential (ESP) of the HAPP monomer and MO. The results indicated that the N heteroatom of HAPP can easily develop strong interactions with MO, supporting the efficient adsorption of MO. The parameters studied include the physical and chemical properties of adsorption, pH, contact time, and initial concentrations. The percentage of MO removal increased as the pH was increased from 2 to 4. The optimum pH required for maximum adsorption was found to be 5.6. Adsorption kinetics data were modeled using the pseudo-first-order and pseudo-second-order models. The results indicate that the second-order model best describes the kinetic adsorption data. The adsorption isotherms revealed a good fit with the Langmuir model. More importantly, the HAPP can be regenerated effectively and recycled at least five times without significant loss of adsorption capacity. Therefore, it is believed that HAPPs with hierarchical porous structures, high surface areas, and physicochemical stability are promising candidates for the purification and treatment of dyes in solution.
With the rapid development of science and technology, various nanomaterials have continually emerged to meet human needs. As a newly emerging class of nanomaterials, two-dimensional (2D) materials have received wide attention recently in energy storage, catalysis, sensing and biomedicine due to their unique features such as good mechanical property, high specific surface area, excellent thermal and electrical conductivity. Biomacromolecules are the special organic molecules with various biological activities which exist extensively in every aspect of human life. When 2D materials meet biomacromolecules to display their own unique advantages, more opportunities and challenges have arisen for the exploitation and fabrication of novel nanomaterials with unique electrical, mechanical, biological properties and specific functions. In recent years, extensive research has been carried out with outstanding achievement thus the combination of 2D materials and biomacromolecules becomes a new hotspot. There were generally two binding interactions between 2D materials and biomacromolecules, namely non-covalent binding (electrostatic interaction, hydrophobic effect, π–π stacking, van der Waals interaction) and covalent binding (special chemical reactions between the functional groups of 2D materials and biomacromolecules). In addition, due to the excellent photothermal conversion performance, 2D materials could exhibit a non-contact interaction to biomacromolecules through the photo-thermal effect which has greatly broadened their applications. Up to now, numerous studies have clearly revealed the binding and effect mechanism and the research will be more focused on expanding the scope and application. Currently, the combination of 2D materials and biomacromolecules has widely involved in many cutting-edge applications such as flexible device, biosensor, smart skin, drug delivery, antibacterial, disease therapy and so on. Although a lot of progress has been made, several highlight open questions still need to be urgently addressed, such as the production cost of 2D materials, biological activity of biomacromolecules, stability and biocompatibility of 2D/biomacromolecule nanomaterials. This review summarizes the interactions between some typical 2D materials (i.e. graphene, graphene oxide, nitrogen-doped graphene, molybdenum disulfide, phosphorene, silylene and germanene) and biomacromolecules (i.e. silk protein, lysozyme, bovine serum albumin, bovine hemoglobin, ovalbumin, villin, bovine fibrinogen, DNA/RNA, glucose oxidase and chitosan) and focuses on the recent progress of some typical applications (i.e. engineering application, disease therapy and antibacterial). The non-covalent and covalent bindings of 2D materials and biomacromolecules are discussed in detail, and the applications of the combination of 2D materials and biomacromolecules in engineering and bioscience have been reviewed. Finally, the challenges for the future development of 2D materials and biomacromolecules are also briefly proposed.
Flexible electronic devices have attracted immense attention in recent years. Conventional electronics that are predominantly fabricated with rigid metallic materials demonstrate poor flexibility. Compared to traditional electronic devices, flexible electronic devices with better flexibility can adapt to different working environments. Consequently, they fit perfectly with different systems with minimal rejections. However, such flexible electronic devices need to achieve good extensibility and flexibility without compromising on their electronic properties. Therefore, new challenges and requirements arise while fabricating conductive materials. Manufacturing of flexible metal electrodes for flexible electronic devices include strategies such as reducing the thickness of the electrodes and designing electrodes with unique structures. However, these technologies are complex and expensive. Carbon nanotube (CNT) films exhibit good flexibility, excellent conductivity, good chemical and thermal stability, as well as good optical transparency, making them ideal candidates for flexible electronics. Therefore, the preparation and application of CNT films for the development of next generation flexible electronics have been extensively studied. In this review, we summarize the recent advances in the preparation of CNT films and their application in flexible electronic devices. Initially, the two main kinds of preparation methods for CNT films—dry and wet methods—are introduced. The dry methods for CNT film preparation include the membrane extraction method based on a vertical array of CNTs and the floating catalytic chemical vapor deposition method. Moreover, the wet methods predominantly discussed include vacuum filtration method, impregnation method, electrodeposition method, self-assembly method, and spraying method. Subsequently, the latest research advancements in assembly techniques, their performance and applications in various flexible electronics are discussed. This review primarily introduces the application of CNT films in the fields of flexible sensors, flexible energy devices, flexible transistors, and flexible display screens. The fundamentals of typical flexible sensors, such as strain sensors, pressure sensors, gas sensors, temperature sensors, and humidity sensors are presented. Besides, flexible lithium-ion batteries, flexible nanogenerators, and flexible thermoelectric devices based on CNT films are also investigated. Moreover, other flexible electronic devices, such as flexible transparent conductive film, flexible transistor, and flexible photodetector, based on CNT films are briefly described. Finally, advanced flexible electronics based on CNT films are summarized. The challenges and future prospects of these films are also discussed.
Recently, non-fullerene small molecular acceptors (NFSMAs) have received great attention because of their broad and strong absorption spectra and stable active layer morphology when compared with traditional fullerene acceptors. The most widely used strategy to design NFSMAs is through A-D-A type molecules, in which an electron-rich core unit (D) is flanked by two electron-deficient units (A). In order to fine-tune the absorption spectra, energy levels, and photovoltaic properties of NFSMAs, great efforts have been made to modify the conjugated backbone of A-D-A type molecule acceptors. In a previous work, we developed a small molecular electron acceptor, namely MBN-Ph, with an A-D-A structure and an organoboron core unit. MBN-Ph exhibited distinctive absorption spectra with two absorption bands in short- and long-wavelength regions. It is known that side chains or substituents on small molecular electron acceptors can also play an important role in the molecular properties and photovoltaic performance of bulk heterojunction organic solar cells (OSCs). In this work, we report an A-D-A type organoboron compound (MBN-Th) bearing a thienyl substituent on the boron atom, which can be used as an electron acceptor for OSCs. The lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of MBN-Th delocalized on the entire backbone, while the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) localized on the core unit. The unique electronic structure of MBN-Th resulted in two strong absorption peaks at 490 and 726 nm, which indicate a wide absorption spectrum and superior sunlight harvesting capability. Compared with the phenyl substituent, the thienyl group led to an unchanged LUMO energy level, low-lying HOMO energy level by 0.1 eV, and blue-shifted absorption spectrum by 20 nm. OSCs with MBN-Th as an electron acceptor showed a power conversion efficiency of 4.21% and a wide photoresponse from 300 to 850 nm. Our results indicate that the substitution of the boron atom with a thienyl group is an effective strategy to tune the electronic structure of organoboron compounds for applications as electron acceptors in OSCs.
Two-dimensional (2D) layered materials have garnered increasing interest in the past few years due to their unique structures and novel properties. These 2D layered materials with atomic thicknesses cover metals, semiconductors, and insulators, including graphene, black phosphorus (BP), transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) and hexagonal boron nitride (BN). Their bandgaps are usually tunable by changing the number of layers and the thicknesses. These 2D material are also sensitive to changes in the surrounding environment, e. g. changes in temperature, pressure, and illumination. Particularly, most 2D materials have high absorption coefficients. Owing to their excellent performance in electronics and optoelectronics and their potential for further development, many optoelectronic devices based on 2D materials, such as photodetectors, have been manufactured and widely used. In this paper, the latest progress of photodetectors based on 2D materials has been outlined. We introduce some 2D materials and their preparation methods, and the mechanisms of photodetectors based on 2D materials, i. e. photovoltaic effect, photoconductive effect, photogating effect, photothermoelectric effect and bolometric effect, have been discussed. Next, we summarize the parameters used to evaluate the performance of photodetectors, including photoresponsivity, external quantum efficiency, internal quantum efficiency, photoconductive gain, signal-to-noise ratio, noise-equivalent power, response time, cutoff frequency, linear dynamic range, and specific detectivity. We also report some recent studies on photodetectors based on 2D materials; among the 2D materials used in these studies, graphene, TMDs, and BP are the most widely used. Many methods have been proposed to improve the performances of photodetectors based on 2D materials, such as doping, designing novel structures, changing the dielectric layer, modifying the contact between channel and electrodes, controlling the surface and the interface, etc. Compared to single 2D materials, heterostructures composed of different 2D materials are more promising for use in photodetectors because they combine materials with different properties, which makes it possible to obtain photodetectors with desired and enhanced performances. Thus, we present some van der Waals heterojunctions and their applications in photodetectors. Finally, we provide a brief summary of the full article and an outlook for future development.
Fluoride contamination of water is a problem worldwide and has caused great concern. Our study focused on the removal of fluorides from aqueous solutions using newly prepared and regenerated activated alumina. To obtain a suitable adsorbent, industrial boehmite was calcined from 573 K to 1473 K and the sample was characterized. The X-ray diffraction patterns showed that the sample was transformed to γ-alumina (activated alumina) at temperatures from 773 K to 1173 K, and the BET dates showed that the specific surface area of the sample decreased gradually from the temperature of 773 K to 1173 K. In our study, the activated alumina calcined from 773 K to 973 K was selected as the defluoridation adsorbent, and dynamic adsorption was employed for the removal of fluorides from aqueous solutions. The breakthrough curves demonstrated that the adsorption capacity of the adsorbent decreased with increasing calcination temperature. To investigate the effect of initial fluoride concentration on the adsorption capacity, 15 mg·L-1, 20 mg·L-1, and 25 mg·L-1 fluoride solutions were selected as the initial aqueous fluoride solution. As a result, the capacity of the adsorbent increased gradually with the increase in the initial fluoride concentration. In order to improve the capacity, we also studied the regeneration process in our experiment. When the activated alumina was saturated by the fluorides, it was regenerated with a NaOH solution (pH = 13.0, 13.3, 13.5) and activated with a HCl solution (0.1 mol·L-1). By a comparison of the five desorption and Al3+ dissolution rates during the regeneration process, it was determined that the NaOH solution with pH 13.0 was the most suitable desorption agent. An analysis of the nitrogen adsorption-desorption isotherm showed that its sharpness was almost unchanged after regeneration, which indicated that the pore structure of the adsorbent was not destroyed during this process. The change in the specific surface area and isoelectric point for the five-times regenerated adsorbent were important impact factors for fluoride adsorption. The specific surface area of the regenerated adsorbent increased, and the study of the zeta potential demonstrated that the isoelectric point also increased after regeneration. To observe the adsorption effect of regenerated activated alumina, we performed an adsorption experiment after each regeneration. The breakthrough curves demonstrated that the regenerated activated alumina exhibited faster saturation and increased adsorption capacity compared to fresh activated alumina. To elucidate the adsorption mechanism, IR spectroscopy was employed to characterize the O―H band of the adsorbent. The change in the Al―O―H content of the activated alumina during regeneration was the main factor impacting the fluoride adsorption capacity of the activated alumina.
Micelles, a kind of surfactant aggregate formed in water, may be swollen to a generally limited extent upon addition of a liquid hydrophobic compound. Swollen micelles have attracted considerable research attention because they can enhance the solubility of the said hydrophobic compound. The development of swollen micelles is of significant interest in terms of both scientific and industrial applications, such as drug delivery, oil recovery, and soil remediation. While there have been many studies focusing on micellar solubilization, several questions remain unanswered: the capacity to quantitatively solubilize the drug in drug delivery, the interaction between micelles and non-polar oil when microemulsions are not formed, and the differences and similarities between swollen micelles and microemulsions. Comprehensive understanding of and insight into swollen micelles will be helpful to tailor surfactants for industrial applications. Herein, we reviewed the recent progress in the field of swollen micelles in terms of solubilization capacity, solubilization site, micellar morphology, etc. First, the UV spectrophotometry results demonstrate that the solubilization capacity of micelles is related to their molecular structures and surfactant properties. The solubilization is also dependent on the composition and nature of the hydrophobic compounds, the presence of electrolytes, temperature, etc. Second, the solubilization site may be located in the micellar core, the palisade layer of the micelle, the micelle surface, or the hydrophilic shell of the micelle, depending on the property of the solubilized compounds and the morphology of the micelles. In general, the micellar aggregation number increases with increasing oil concentration; high concentration of oil causes the formation of spherical micelles, while high concentration of oil results in ellipsoidal micelles. Furthermore, the micellar size increased gradually with increasing oil concentrations. Finally, the differences and similarities between swollen micelles and microemulsions were clarified. It is believed that microemulsions can be considered as swollen micelles, but there has been some strong evidence that differentiates swollen micelles and microemulsions. Based on our results, we believe that microemulsions can be considered as swollen micelles, but all micellar solutions cannot be swollen to the extent of microemulsions, unless the specific structural requirements and conditions are satisfied. Overall, understanding the properties of swollen micelles and how they transform to microemulsions not only provide theoretical support for practical applications of surfactants, but can also be used to design new surfactants.
Molecular electronics has been the subject of increasing interest since 1974. Although it describes the utilization of single molecules as active components of electrical devices, molecular electronics remains a fundamental subject to date. Considering that the length of a single molecule is typically several nanometers, the electrical characterization of a probe molecule is a significant experimental challenge. A metal/molecule/metal junction can bridge the gap between nanometer-sized molecules and the macroscopic measuring circuit and is, thus, generally considered as the most common prototype in molecular electronics. For the fabrication and characterization of single-molecule junctions, break junction methods, which include the mechanically controllable break junction (MCBJ) technique and the scanning tunneling microscopy-break junction (STM-BJ) technique, were proposed at the turn of the century and have been developed rapidly in recent years. These methods are widely employed in the experimental study of charge transport through single-molecule junctions and provide a platform to investigate the physical and chemical processes at the single-molecule level. In this review, we mainly focus on MCBJ and STM-BJ techniques applicable for single-molecule conductance measurement and highlight the progress of these techniques in the context of identification and modulation of chemical reactions and evaluation of their reaction kinetics at the single-molecule level. We begin by presenting the operation principles of MCBJ and STM-BJ and stating their brief comparison. Subsequently, we summarize the recent advances in modulating single-molecule chemical reactions. In this regard, we introduce several examples that involve changing the environmental solution, applying an external electrical field, and resorting to electrochemical gating. Next, we overview the application of the break junction techniques in the investigation of reaction kinetics at the single-molecule level. In this section, we also present a brief introduction to studies on single-molecule reaction kinetics using graphene-based nanogaps, wherein conventional metallic electrodes were replaced by graphene electrodes. Furthermore, we discuss the combination of break junction techniques and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy for detecting single-molecule reactions occurring at nanometer-scale separation. We discuss the historical development of this combined method and present the latest advancement explaining the origin of the low conductance of 1, 4-benzenedithiol, which is a topic of significant concern in single-molecule electronics. Finally, we discuss some future issues in molecular electronics, including the expansion from simple molecules to complex molecular systems and the introduction of multi-physical fields into single-molecule junctions. Moreover, we provide a list of critical characterization tools in molecular electronics and discuss their potential applications.
Two-dimensional (2D) materials, led by graphene, have emerged as nano-building blocks to develop high-performance membranes. The atom-level thickness of nanosheets makes a membrane as thin as possible, thereby minimizing the transport resistance and maximizing the permeation flux. Meanwhile, the sieving channels can be precisely manipulated within sub-nanometer size for molecular separation, such as gas separation. For instance, graphene oxide (GO) channels with an interlayer height of about 0.4 nm assembled by external forces exhibited excellent H2/CO2 sieving performance compared to commercial membranes. Cross-linking was also employed to fabricate ultrathin (< 20 nm) GO-facilitated transport membranes for efficient CO2 capture. A borate-crosslinked membrane exhibited a high CO2 permeance of 650 GPU (gas permeation unit), and a CO2/CH4 selectivity of 75, which is currently the best performance reported for GO-based composite membranes. The CO2-facilitated transport membrane with piperazine as the carrier also exhibited excellent separation performance under simulated flue gas conditions with CO2 permeance of 1020 GPU and CO2/N2 selectivity as high as 680. In addition, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) with layered structures, if successfully exfoliated, can serve as diverse sources for MOF nanosheets that can be fabricated into high-performance membranes. It is challenging to maintain the structural and morphological integrity of nanosheets. Poly[Zn2(benzimidazole)4] (Zn2(bim)4) was firstly exfoliated into 1-nm-thick nanosheets and assembled into ultrathin membranes possessing both high permeance and excellent molecular sieving properties for H2/CO2 separation. Interestingly, reversed thermo-switchable molecular sieving was also demonstrated in membranes composed of 2D MOF nanosheets. Besides, researchers employed layered double hydroxides (LDHs) to prepare molecular-sieving membranes via in situ growth, and the as-prepared membranes showed a remarkable selectivity of ~80 for H2-CH4 mixture. They concluded that the amount of CO2 in the precursor solution contributed to LDH membranes with various preferred orientations and thicknesses. Apart from these 2D materials, MXenes also show great potential in selective gas permeation. Lamellar stacked MXene membranes with aligned and regular sub-nanometer channels exhibited excellent gas separation performance. Moreover, our ultrathin (20 nm) MXene nanofilms showed outstanding molecular sieving property for the preferential transport of H2, with H2 permeance as high as 1584 GPU and H2/CO2 selectivity of 27. The originally H2-selective MXene membranes could be transformed into membranes selectively permeating CO2 by chemical tuning of the MXene nanochannels. This paper briefly reviews the latest groundbreaking studies in 2D-material membranes for gas separation, with a focus on sub-nanometer 2D channels, exfoliation of 2D nanosheets with structural integrity, and tunable gas transport property. Challenges, in terms of the mass production of 2D nanosheets, scale-up of lab-level membranes and a thorough understanding of the transport mechanism, and the potential of 2D-material membranes for wide implementation are briefly discussed.
As a new 2D material with excellent chemical stability, good electric conductivity, and high specific surface area, graphene has been widely used in energy storage and conversion devices. However, 2D graphene layers are easily stacked, which may significantly reduce the surface area and degrade the excellent electrical properties of graphene. To avoid this, one of the most effective methods is to construct 3D graphene (3DG) with specific porous microstructures. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is an important method for the synthesis of high-quality 3DG, where templates play a defining role in controlling the structure and cost of 3DG. Metallic materials with 3D microstructures, such as nickel foam, have proven to be useful as substrates for the growth of high-quality 3DG. However, metal substrates are usually expensive, and the pickling solution generated after etching may cause environmental problems. Therefore, non-metallic substrate materials with lower costs have been investigated for the preparation of 3DG. Herein, we developed a novel template material, mammal bone ashes, for the CVD preparation of 3DG. Mammal bone ash is an inexpensive and abundant biomass hydroxyapatite. During the high-temperature CVD reaction, the bone ash powders were slightly sintered to form a continuous porous structure with graphene coating. The morphology of 3DG is inherited from the microstructure of bone ash templates. After removing the bone ash template with hydrochloric acid, the template-grown 3DG was obtained with a unique bicontinuous structure, i.e. both the graphene framework and the void space were continuous. In addition, the pickling solution of the bone ash templates after etching was exactly the same as that for the raw materials for the production of phosphoric acid to achieve high atom utilization. We further optimized the graphitization degrees, layer number, and porous morphology of 3DGs. The microstructure evolution of 3DG is highly relevant to the layer thickness and uniformity of graphene layers. A short growth time would lead to a non-uniform and thin layer of graphene, which is not able to support a complex 3D porous structure. In contrast, a uniform graphene layer with proper thickness is capable of forming a robust 3D architecture. In addition, the facile CVD method can be extended to a series of metal phosphate templates, including tricalcium phosphate [Ca3(PO4)2], trimagnesium phosphate [Mg3(PO4)2], and aluminum phosphate [AlPO4]. 3DG with bicontinuous morphology is promising as a conductive frame material in electrochemical energy storage devices. As an illustration, high-performance Li-S batteries were fabricated by the uniform composition of an S cathode on 3DG. In comparison with heavily stacked 2D graphene sheets in reduced graphene oxide / S composite, the non-flat structure of 3DGs remained unchanged even after the harsh melt-diffusion process of high-viscosity liquid sulfur. The resulting 3DG/S cathode delivered a high specific capacity of ~550 mAh∙g-1 at a high current rate (2C). Our work opens an avenue to the low-cost and high-utility production of 3D graphene, which could be integrated with the well-developed phosphorus chemical industry.
Controllable synthesis of MoS2 with desired number of layers via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) remains challenging. Hence, it is highly desirable to develop a theoretical model that can be used to predict the single- and multilayer growth of MoS2 quantitatively, and provide guidelines for experimental fabrication. Herein we have established a kinetic Monte Carlo (kMC) model to predict the CVD growth of mono- and bilayer MoS2. First, we proposed that the growth rates of layer 1 and layer 2 were governed by the distribution of the adatom concentration, and the growth kinetics of compact triangular MoS2 followed the kink nucleation-propagation mechanism. The adatom concentration was formulated in terms of adatom flux, effective lifetime of adatoms, growth temperature, binding energies, edge energies, and nucleation criterion. The kink nucleation and propagation were determined by energy barriers of the adatom attachments to the zigzag and armchair edges. We then employed an analytic thermodynamic criterion to extract these parameters. Using the calibrated model, we found that the growth rate of layer 2 strongly depended on the size of layer 1 and decreased monotonically with increasing size of layer 1, and might even become prohibited at the maximum size of layer 1. Furthermore, we analyzed the size and morphology evolutions of bilayer MoS2 at different growth temperatures and adatom fluxes. Throughout the growth processes of bilayer MoS2, the morphologies of layers 1 and 2 maintained triangular shapes with compact edges, consistent with the kink nucleation-propagation growth mechanism. Our simulations revealed that the growth of bilayer MoS2 was promoted by increasing the growth temperature or decreasing the adatom flux, which corroborated the experimental observations. The increase in growth temperature led to reduced adatom concentration at the edge of layer 2 in accordance with the adatom concentration far from the edge of layer 2, resulting in a consistent difference in the adatom concentration to promote the growth of bilayer MoS2. Similarly, the decrease in adatom flux lowered the difference between the adatom concentrations far from the edge and at the edge of layer 1, decelerating the growth of layer 1. The decelerated growth of layer 1 reduced the difference between the adatom concentrations far from the edge and at the edge of layer 2 to zero, permitting the growth of bilayer MoS2. To guide the experimental synthesis, we constructed a phase diagram to delineate the permitted or prohibited growth of bilayer MoS2 at different growth temperatures and adatom fluxes. Hence, this work not only unveils the conditions for the growth of mono- and bi-layer MoS2, but also provides guidelines for controllable synthesis of MoS2 with the desired number of layers.
With the development of non-fullerene small-molecule acceptors, non-fullerene polymer solar cells (PSCs) have garnered increased attention due to their high performance. While photons are absorbed and converted to free charge carriers in the active layer, the donor and acceptor materials both play a critical role in determining the performance of PSCs. Among the various conjugated-polymer donor materials, polythiophene (PT) derivatives such as poly(3-hexylthiophene), have attracted considerable interest due to their high hole mobility and simple synthesis. However, there are limited studies on the applications of PT derivatives in non-fullerene PSCs. Fabrication of highly efficient non-fullerene PSCs utilizing PT derivatives as the donor is a challenging topic. In this study, a new PT derivative, poly[5, 5′-4, 4′-bis(2-butyloctylsulphanyl)-2, 2′-bithiophene-alt-5, 5′-4, 4′-difluoro-2, 2′-bithiophene] (PBSBT-2F), with alkylthio groups and fluorination was synthesized for use as the donor in non-fullerene PSC applications. The absorption spectra, electrochemical properties, molecular packing, and photovoltaic properties of PBSBT-2F were investigated and compared with those of poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT). The polymer exhibited a wide bandgap of 1.82 eV, a deep highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) of -5.02 eV, and an ordered molecular packing structure. Following this observation, PSCs based on a blend of PBSBT-2F as the donor and 3, 9-bis(2-methylene-(3-(1, 1-dicyanomethylene)-indanone)-5, 5, 11, 11-tetrakis(4-hexylphenyl)-dithieno-[2, 3-d:2′, 3′-d′]-s-indaceno[1, 2-b:5, 6-b′]dithiophene (ITIC) as the acceptor were fabricated. The absorption spectra were collected and the energy levels were found to be well matched. These devices exhibited a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 6.7% with an open-circuit voltage (VOC) of 0.75 V, a short-circuit current density (JSC) of 13.5 mA·cm-2, and a fill factor (FF) of 66.6%. These properties were superior to those of P3HT (1.2%) under the optimal conditions. This result indicates that PBSBT-2F is a promising donor material for non-fullerene PSCs.
Graphene is one of the most promising materials in nanotechnology and has attracted worldwide attention and research interest owing to its high electrical conductivity, good thermal stability, and excellent mechanical strength. Perfect graphene samples exhibit outstanding electrical and mechanical properties. However, point defects are commonly observed during fabrication which deteriorate the performance of graphene based-devices. The transport properties of graphene with point defects essentially depend on the imperfection of the hexagonal carbon atom network and the scattering of carriers by localized states. Furthermore, an in-depth understanding of the effect of specific point defects on the electronic and transport properties of graphene is crucial for specific applications. In this work, we employed density functional theory calculations and the non-equilibrium Green's function method to systematically elucidate the effects of various point defects on the electrical transport properties of graphene, including Stone-Waals and inverse Stone-Waals defects; and single and double vacancies. The electrical conductance highly depends on the type and concentration of point defects in graphene. Low concentrations of Stone-Waals, inverse Stone-Waals, and single-vacancy defects do not noticeably degrade electron transport. In comparison, DV585 induces a moderate reduction of 25%–34%, and DV55577 and DV5555-6-7777 induce significant suppression of 51%–62% in graphene. As the defect concentration increases, the electrical conductance reduces by a factor of 2–3 compared to the case of graphene monolayers with a low concentration of point defects. These distinct electrical transport behaviors are attributed to the variation of the graphene band structure; the point defects induce localized states near the Fermi level and result in energy splitting at the Dirac point due to the breaking of the intrinsic symmetry of the graphene honeycomb lattice. Double vacancies with larger defect concentrations exhibit more flat bands near the Fermi energy and more localized states in the defective region, resulting in the presence of resonant peaks close to the Fermi energy in the local density of states. This may cause resonant scattering of the carriers and a corresponding reduction of the conductance of graphene. Moreover, the partial charge densities for double vacancies and point defects with larger concentrations exhibit enhanced localization in the defective region that hinder the charge carriers. The electrical conductance shows an exponential decay as the defect concentration and energy splitting increase. These theoretical results provide important insights into the electrical transport properties of realistic graphene monolayers and will assist in the fabrication of high-performance graphene-based devices.
Supercapacitors have been widely used in various fields because of their high power density, long cycle life, and cost-effectiveness. Plant-based porous carbon continues to be the most suitable alternative for manufacturing the commercial electrode materials of supercapacitors because of its good electrochemical performance, simple preparation process, high availability, and low cost. Although plant-based porous carbon prepared using physical activation has been widely used in commercial supercapacitors, its performance is severely restricted because of its low value of specific surface area and highly microporous structure. With a view to achieving high values of specific gravimetric/volumetric capacitances and outstanding rate performance in supercapacitors, this review summarizes the recently developed methods for preparing plant-based ultrahigh specific surface area porous carbon materials, mesoporous carbon materials, hierarchical porous carbon materials, and nitrogen-doped porous carbon materials. The factors affecting the electrochemical performance of plant-based porous carbon are also discussed. We also summarize some novel strategies to improve the volumetric electrochemical performance of plant-based porous carbon materials, such as preparing dense and porous carbon materials, performing heteroatom doping, and combining the carbon with pseudocapacitive materials (conductive polymers or metal oxides). Finally, the challenges and perspectives of using plant-based porous carbon in supercapacitors are also proposed. In brief, when used as the electrode material for supercapacitors, the ultrahigh surface area porous carbon prepared by KOH activation shows high value of specific capacitance at low current densities. However, the tortuous and deep micropores in the plant-based porous carbon result in its sluggish ion-transport kinetics and high value of equivalent series resistance, which, in turn, result in poor rate performance. To improve the rate performance, tremendous efforts have been made to introduce mesopores in the carbon as ion-transport channels. However, this strategy usually involves the coalescence of a large number of micropores, resulting in the reduced surface area as well as energy storage ability of the carbon. Hence, many researchers have utilized the inherent porous structure and inorganic templates of plants to prepare hierarchical porous carbon both with high specific surface area and high mesopore volume for use in devices with high capacitance and power. In addition to altering the surface area and pore structure of the carbon, doping with nitrogen is another promising approach to enhance the capacitance and electronic conductivity of the plant-based porous carbon. Surface nitrogen can be introduced by the direct carbonization/activation of nitrogen-rich plant precursors or by the reaction of the carbon with nitrogen-containing reagents. Porous carbon with large specific area and with developed mesoporous structure may exhibit superior gravimetric capacitance but inferior volumetric capacitance because of the trade-off between its well-developed microporous structure and packing density. To improve the volume performance, some methods, such as preparing dense and porous carbon with reasonably porous structure, using heteroatom-doped carbon, and incorporating the carbon with pseudocapacitive materials, have been developed. Although the electrochemical performance of plant-based porous carbon has been significantly improved using the aforementioned methods, yet issues such as the lack of green methods and low-cost activation methods to prepare large surface area porous carbon, the design and controlled modulation of carbon micro-structures, the influence of heteroatom doping on pseudocapacitance, and weak interaction between pseudocapacitive components and plant-based porous carbon still need to be resolved. We hope that this review may provide the necessary background and ideas to develop more effective preparation methods for high-performance plant-based porous carbon.
The strategy of transition-metal-catalyzed C―H activation has been greatly developed in recent years. Direct transformations of inert C―H bonds undoubtedly provide powerful ways to construct various C―C and C―X (X = heteroatom) bonds, with enhanced atom- and step-economy. Impressive efforts have been devoted to this research all along. However, concerns about reactivity and selectivity remain to be tackled, due to their strong dependence on directing groups and acidic reactive sites. In this regard, more effective catalytic systems are of great importance and therefore in high demand. Bimetallic C―H activation, by virtue of the cooperative effect, has emerged as a promising solution to this issue. The intriguing interactions between two metals with substrates afford exceptional reaction efficiency and selectivity. Intensive interest in both experimental and computational studies has been recently triggered. In this minireview, diverse bimetallic catalytic reactions are summarized into three categories according to the initiator in the C―H activation step, namely, bimetallic catalyses based on palladium, nickel, and other metals. Experimental results as well as density functional theory (DFT) calculations are invoked in the plausible mechanistic considerations. In the first part, collaborative modes based on palladium are described, in which magnesium, chromium, cobalt, and silver are successfully engaged as accessory partners. Most of them stabilize the C―H activation transition states by decreasing the energy, thus facilitating the cleavage of C―H bonds. Notably, some reactions previously reported as examples of monomeric palladium catalysis are now reinvestigated as bimetallic scenarios, in light of computational discussions. In the second part, reactions based on the synergy of nickel, and zinc or aluminum, are generalized, in which zinc or aluminum acts as a Lewis acid to increase the acidity of C―H bonds. It has been shown that the choice of different kinds of Lewis acids and ligands has a great influence on the reaction chemo-, regio-, and stereoselectivity. Gratefully, even enantioselective transformations can be achieved using the cooperation of nickel and aluminum. Moreover, a key reaction intermediate in the bimetallic C―H activation by nickel and aluminum has been isolated, providing guidance for this bimetallic catalytic system in further mechanistic studies and applications. In the last part, synergetic catalysis based on various other metals is presented. Bimetallic regimes of ruthenium/copper, rhodium/bismuth, iridium/aluminum, manganese/zinc, and zirconium/aluminum have been elegantly applied to C―H activation reactions. Multifarious action modes are proposed on account of the mechanistic research.
In this study, a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) fiber probe modified with Ag nanoparticles (NPs) was developed. The LSPR fiber probe not only serves as a reaction substrate for plasmonic catalysis, but also detects in situ surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) signals from the reaction product, thereby achieving the integration of the plasmonic catalysis reactions and SERS signal detection. To fabricate the LSPR probe, plasmonic Ag NPs were first self-assembled on the surface of the fiber probe with assistance by the amination and silanization of (3-aminopropyl) trimethoxysilane (APTMS) molecules. p-Aminothiophenol (PATP) was chosen as a model molecule for plasmonic catalytic reaction. By regulating the self-assembly time of the Ag NPs, a uniform distributed monolayer of Ag NPs was formed on the surface of the probe, with which excellent plasmonic catalysis effects and SERS signal collection from the reaction product of 4, 4′-dimercaptoazobenzene (DMAB) were achieved. It was found that the characteristic SERS signal of the plasmonic catalytic reaction product DMAB obtained from internal excitation and collection was 12.8 times more intense than that from the external excitation and collection under the same laser intensity conditions, demonstrating that the internal excitation and collection method was advantageous in the plasmonic catalysis and SERS signal detection. The LSPR fiber probe was demonstrably qualified to quantitatively detect the concentrations of PATP solutions in the concentration ranges 10−4–10−8 mol∙L−1. Using the LSPR fiber probe, we also realized an in situ kinetics study of the PATP coupling reaction enhanced by plasmonic catalysis. The results showed that the Ag NP-based LSPR fiber probe with internal excitation and collection modes had the advantages of high sensitivity, low cost, facile preparation, and most importantly, applicability to in situ detection in a flexible manner with less damage to the samples. The preliminary study also indicated that it was feasible to combine the LSPR fiber probe with near-field scanning optical microscopy, not only to obtain morphological images of the surface but also to simultaneously perform the plasmonic catalysis reaction and the detection of micro-domains of the surface. This permitted the acquisition of a two-dimensional distributional assessment of surface reactions by the plasmonic catalysis.
As reported previously, rhodanine and thiazolidine-2, 4-dione units have been widely used as the terminal group to construct the efficient non-fullerene small molecular acceptors with the structure of A1-A2-D-A2-A1. Compared with the acceptor using thiazolidine-2, 4-dione unit as the terminal group, the acceptor with rhodanine unit as the terminal electron-withdrawing group usually showed the improved short circuit current density (Jsc) and fill factor (FF) as well as the higher power conversion efficiency (PCE), regardless of the lower open circuit voltage (Voc). However, the causes of difference are still not very clear. Therefore, in this work, an unsymmetrical organic acceptor (IDT-2) has been designed and synthesized with rhodanine and thiazolidine- 2, 4-dione units as the electron-withdrawing terminal groups to connect an indacenodithiophene (IDT) central core, respectively. By comparing with the two analogues of the symmetrical organic acceptors based on rhodamine unit (IDT-1) or thiazolidine-2, 4-dione unit (IDT-3) as the terminal group, the structure-property relationship has been investigated for this series of acceptors. It is found that as two rhodamine terminal groups are replaced step by step with the thiazolidine-2, 4-dione unit from IDT-1 to IDT-3, the ICT absorption of these small molecular acceptors is significantly blue-shifted from 633 (soln)/656 (film), 618/645 to 603/625 nm, and the corresponding optical band gap (Egopt) is also gradually widened from 1.68, 1.71 to 1.77 eV for IDT-1, IDT-2 and IDT-3, respectively, which can be attributed to the introduction of thiazolidine-2, 4-dione unit to reduce the stability of quinoid structure of the conjugation backbone. At the same time, the LUMO/HOMO (the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital/the highest occupied molecular orbital) energy levels of the molecules are gradually uplifted to be -3.62/-5.58, -3.60/-5.56, and -3.57/-5.53 eV, respectively, which is generally beneficial for the improvement of the Voc due to the upshifted LUMO energy levels of the acceptors. Considering the complementary absorption and well-matched energy levels of the donor and acceptor, the regioregular poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) has been chosen as a donor to fabricate the devices with three small molecular acceptors, respectively, and the corresponding photovoltaic performances have been evaluated and compared. The device based on IDT-1 with two rhodamine terminal groups gives the best PCE of 4.52% with the lowest Voc of 0.87 V, the highest FF of 70.66% and Jsc of 7.37 mA·cm-2, while the device based on IDT-3 with two thiazolidine-2, 4-dione terminal groups shows the poorest PCE of 3.40% with the highest Voc of 0.98 V but the lowest FF of 59.70% and Jsc of 5.82 mA·cm-2. As for IDT-2 with an unsymmetrical structure, it contains a thiazolidine-2, 4-dione terminal group and a rhodamine terminal group at the two sides of the molecule. It can be seen that the IDT-2 based device just shows a PCE of 4.07% with a Voc of 0.91 V, a FF of 64.65% and a Jsc of 6.81 mA·cm-2, all of which are between those of the devices based on IDT-1 and IDT-3. These results indicate that the thiazolidine-2, 4-dione unit is an effective terminal group to enhance the Voc of the device but is not beneficial to the improvement of the Jsc and FF. Furthermore, when designing the structure of the acceptors, it is very important to maintain the balance of all the three parameters to maximize the PCE in the OSCs.
With the continuous miniaturization and integration of electronic and optoelectronic nanodevices, Moore's Law faces huge challenges from the demands of devices with multifunctional and high-performance characteristics. With several recent reports of the successful synthesis of nanomaterials such as nanoparticles, quantum dots, nanowires, and two-dimensional layered materials, the utilization of such materials for the fabrication of electronic and optoelectronic nanodevices has demonstrated potential for realizing multifunctional and high-performance nanodevices in the future. In particular, owing to their excellent electrical, thermal, mechanical, and optical properties, atomically two-dimensional layered materials have emerged as the most promising materials for nanodevices to solve the bottleneck problems of traditional silicon-based devices. Two-dimensional semiconductor materials have been widely applied in many aspects of functional modules, including pn junctions, field effect transistors, rectifiers, photodetectors, and even solar cells. To provide a strong foundation for the development of high-performance and multifunctional nanodevices in the future, this review summarizes the recent advances in electronic and optoelectronic nanodevices based on novel two-dimensional semiconductor materials. We begin the review with a brief introduction of existing two-dimensional materials, including graphene, transition-metal dichalcogenide materials, black phosphorus, hexagonal boron nitride, and van der Waals heterostructures. The atom structure features, electronic and optical properties, and major applications in devices are discussed. The semiconductor materials are suitable for device channels, while graphene and hexagonal boron nitride can be used as electrodes, encapsulating materials, and components of van der Waals heterostructures for channel of field effect transistors. Next, we mainly discuss the advances in electronic and optoelectronic nanodevices based on transition-metal dichalcogenide materials, black phosphorus, and van der Waals heterostructures. In the context of electronic nanodevices, we introduce field effect transistors and other important functional devices, such as sensors, memristors, and integrated circuits. The mobility, on-off ratio, rectification ratio, and other properties of electronic devices are mentioned. In addition, we describe the potential applications of optoelectronic nanodevices for photodetectors, lasers, light-emitting diodes, photovoltaic devices, and so on. The metrics of devices performance such as responsivity, response time, and spectrum response range are compared. Finally, we summarize and compare the advantages and disadvantages of nanodevices based on different materials. Manufacturing comprehensive and high-performance nanodevices will be a promising direction in the future. In addition, the methods for improving the performance of devices are classified. This review will serve as an important reference for the development of future multifunctional and high-performance nanodevices.
The world is currently facing a series of energy-related problems and challenges. In response, scientists are committed to seeking green high-performance energy storage devices to meet the demands of long-term, sustainable, and innovative development in the future. As a new type of green energy storage device, the supercapacitor has the advantages of high power density, high theoretical specific capacitance, fast charge and discharge speed, long cycle life, high safety, environmental friendliness, and economy to help people cope with the energy crisis. In addition, energy storage devices including Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors are being transformed from heavy, rigid, and bulky devices into light, flexible, and small units to fulfill the needs of the next generation. Among these energy storage systems, the electrode material is an important factor affecting the performance of supercapacitors. In recent years, supercapacitors based on manganese dioxide have been widely studied owing to their high theoretical specific capacitance, good chemical stability, and environmental friendliness. At the same time, a variety of two-dimensional materials are also used as supercapacitor electrode materials after graphene. Two-dimensional structural features play an important role in improving the energy density of electric double-layer capacitors and improving the pseudocapacitance of capacitors. To achieve high specific capacitance and high rate of performance, combining manganese dioxide with two-dimensional materials is a promising option. In this paper, we systematically introduce the application of composites that combine two-dimensional materials represented by graphene and manganese dioxide in supercapacitors, and considers the electrochemical properties of these composites. However, there is still a long way to go in order to fabricate a suitable hierarchical structure consisting of two-dimensional materials and manganese dioxide. For example, a suitable two-dimensional material must be chosen and combined with manganese dioxide to form composites that possess excellent electrochemical properties. In addition, the fabrication methods for these composites are a principal factor that affects their performance. Thus, there are reasons for us to strongly believe that if these key issues are resolved, the properties of these composites consisting of manganese dioxide and two-dimensional materials will make great progress. Overall, this paper only points out some general directions for these kinds of composites in the future, such as principles for choosing the two-dimensional materials to combine with manganese dioxide, and the composite methods which have been reported previously. We are pleased that other researchers are being inspired by our work, and we are looking forward to seeing better studies in this field.
TiO2 nanotube arrays (NTAs) have high photocatalytic activity; however, their weak visible light absorption limits their solar energy utilization and environmental application. Perovskite (ABO3)-type oxides with a narrow band gap can absorb visible light in a wide wavelength range and have excellent stability; however, their photocatalytic activity is relatively low. Coupling TiO2 NTAs with ABO3 to form heterojunctions is one of the most promising approaches to extend the optical absorption of TiO2 NTAs into the visible-light range and promote the separation rate of photogenerated electron–hole pairs. However, to date, constructing ABO3-TiO2 NTA heterostructured composites has been extremely challenging owing to the different crystallization temperatures of anatase TiO2 NTAs and ABO3. In this work, LaCoO3 nanoparticles were first synthesized using a sol-gel method. The as-prepared LaCoO3 nanoparticles were then modified on the surface of the TiO2 NTAs using an electrophoretic deposition technique, and a series of LaCoO3-TiO2 NTAs photocatalysts were thus constructed by controlling the deposition time. Results of the scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) demonstrated that the nanoparticles prepared through the sol-gel method were LaCoO3 with a uniform size and high crystallization. The average diameter of the LaCoO3 nanoparticles was 100 nm. The binding strength between the LaCoO3 nanoparticles and the TiO2 NTAs was strong. The UV-visible absorption spectra (diffuse reflectance spectroscopy; DRS) demonstrated that the absorption band edge of the LaCoO3-TiO2 NTAs was gradually red-shifted into the visible light region with the increase in electrophoretic time. The LaCoO3-TiO2 NTAs prepared by the electrophoretic deposition technique for 15 min exhibited a strong light absorption in the wide wavelength range from 250 to 700 nm, which was the same as that of the LaCoO3 nanoparticles loaded on a Ti foil. The results of the photocatalytic degradation of methyl orange (MO) under visible light irradiation demonstrated that the photocatalytic degradation rate of MO over LaCoO3-TiO2 NTAs was considerably higher than those of TiO2 NTAs and LaCoO3 nanoparticles loaded on a Ti foil. The LaCoO3-TiO2 NTAs prepared by the electrophoretic deposition technique for 15 min showed the highest photocatalytic degradation rate of MO, which was a four-fold enhancement compared to that of TiO2 NTs under the same conditions. The p-n heterojunctions between the LaCoO3 nanoparticles and the TiO2 nanotubes were responsible for the enhanced visible light photocatalytic activity. The results of the electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL) tests demonstrated that the loading of the LaCoO3 nanoparticles effectively promoted the separation and transport of photogenerated charges, thereby enhancing the visible light photocatalytic activity of the TiO2 NTAs.
Currently, worldwide attention is focused on controlling the continually increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. To this end, a number of investigations have been carried out to convert the carbon dioxide molecules into value-added chemicals. As carbon dioxide is thermodynamically stable, it is necessary to develop an efficient carbon dioxide utilization method for future scaled-up applications. Recently, several approaches, such as electrocatalysis, thermolysis, and non-thermal plasma, have been utilized to achieve carbon dioxide conversion. Among them, non-thermal plasma, which contains chemically active species such as high-energy electrons, ions, atoms, and excited gas molecules, has the potential to achieve high energy efficiency without catalysts near room temperature. Here, we used radio-frequency (RF) discharge plasma, which exhibits the non-thermal feature, to explore the decomposition behavior of carbon dioxide in non-thermal plasma. We studied the ionization and decomposition behaviors of CO2 and CO2-H2 mixtures in plasma at low gas pressure. The non-thermal plasma was realized by our custom-made inductively coupled RF plasma research system. The reaction products were analyzed by on-line quadrupole mass spectrometry (differentially pumped), while the plasma status was monitored using an in situ real-time optical emission spectrometer. Plasma parameters (such as the electron temperature and ion density), which can be tuned by utilizing different discharge conditions, played significant roles in the carbon dioxide dissociation process in non-thermal plasma. In this study, the conversion ratio and energy efficiency of pure carbon dioxide plasma were investigated at different values of power supply and gas flow. Subsequently, the effect of H2 on CO2 decomposition was studied with varying H2 contents. Results showed that the carbon dioxide molecules were rapidly ionized and partially decomposed into CO and oxygen in the RF field. With increasing RF power, the conversion ratio of carbon dioxide increased, while the energy efficiency decreased. A maximum conversion ratio of 77.6% was achieved. It was found that the addition of hydrogen could substantially reduce the time required to attain the equilibrium of the carbon dioxide decomposition reaction. With increasing H2 content, the conversion ratio of CO2 decreased initially and then increased. The ionization state of H2 and the consumption of oxygen owing to CO2 decomposition were the main reasons for the V-shape plot of the CO2 conversion ratio. In summary, this study investigates the influence of power supply, feed gas flow, and added hydrogen gas content, on the carbon dioxide decomposition behavior in non-thermal RF discharge plasma.
Recently, ferroelectric materials have attracted considerable research attention. In particular, two dimensional (2D) ferroelectric materials have been considered as most crucial for next-generation circuit designs because of their application as novel electric memory devices. However, a 2D ferroelectric material is very rare. The ferroelectric materials with the form ABP2X6 (A = Ag, Cu; B = Bi, In; X = S, Se) are of interest because of their ferroelectric property maintained in their ultrathin structures. Within the ABP2X6 monolayer, the P―P bonds form the pillars that hold the top and bottom X planes, while the off-center A―B atoms between the X layers induce a spontaneous ferroelectric polarization. If the two off-center A―B sites are equally aligned, this would lead to the appearance of the paraelectric state. Such intriguing structures must impart novel mechanical properties to the materials. Until now, there has been no report on the mechanical properties of monolayer ABP2X6. Based on ﬁrst-principles calculations, we studied the structural, electronic, mechanical as well as the electromechanical coupling properties of monolayer ABP2X6 (A = Ag, Cu; B = Bi, In; X = S, Se). We found that they are all semiconductors with wide bandgaps of 2.73, 2.17, 3.00, and 2.31 eV for CuInP2Se6, CuBiP2Se6, AgBiP2S6, and AgBiP2Se6, respectively, which are calculated based on the Heyd-Scuseria-Ernzerhof (HSE) exchange correlation functional model. The conduction band minimum is mainly from p orbitals of X and B atoms, whereas the valence band maximum is due to the hybridization of the p orbital of X atoms and the d orbital of A atoms. Moreover, there are three short and three long A/B―X bonds due to the A―B off-center displacement. Together with the d-p orbital hybridization, the main reason for the distorted ferroelectric structure in ABP2X6 monolayers is the Jahn-Teller effect. ABP2X6 monolayers are predicted to be a new class of auxetic materials with an out-of-plane negative Poisson's ratio, i.e., the values of the negative Poisson's ratio are in the order AgBiP2S6 (−0.805) < AgBiP2Se6 (−0.778) < CuBiP2Se6 (−0.670) < CuInP2S6 (−0.060). This is mainly due to the tensile strain applied in the x/y direction enlarging the angle between P―P bonds and top layer X atoms, thereby enhancing the bucking height of monolayer ABP2X6. Moreover, external strain has a significant impact on the A―B off-center displacement, rendering an out-of-plane piezoelectric polarization. The values of e13 for CuInP2S6, CuBiP2Se6, AgBiP2S6, AgBiP2Se6 monolayers are calculated to be −3.95 × 10−12, −5.68 × 10−12, −3.94 × 10−12, −2.71 × 10−12 C∙m−1, respectively, which are comparable to the only experimentally confirmed 2D out-of-plane piezoelectric Janus system (piezoelectric coefficient = −3.8 × 10−12 C∙m−1). This unusual auxetic behavior, ferroelectric polarization, and the electromechanical coupling in monolayer ABP2X6 could potentially lead to enormous technologically important applications in nanoelectronics, nanomechanics, and piezoelectrics.
A novel template-free oxalate route was applied to synthesize a series of MnOx catalysts with different Cu content (MnOx, Cu1-MnOx, Cu2-MnOx, Cu3-MnOx, Cu4-MnOx, Cu2-450, and Cu2-550), which were then used in 1, 2, 3, 4-tetrahydroquinoline (THQL) oxidative dehydrogenation aromatization. To obtain insight into the structure-activity relationships of the catalysts, the samples were characterized by thermogravimetry and heat flow analysis, X-ray diffraction (XRD), N2 physical adsorption-desorption, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), H2 temperature programmed reduction (H2-TPR), and atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS). The results showed that Cu2-MnOx possesses the following characteristics: amorphous nature, high specific surface area, increased mesoporous average pore diameter, lower reduction temperature, highest Mn3+ and adsorbed oxygen content, and highest Mn3+/Mn4+ ratio among the seven manganese oxide catalysts. Cu2-MnOx for the oxidative dehydrogenation aromatization of THQL showed conversion (99.1%) and selectivity (97.2%) for quinoline under mild reaction conditions, with cheap air as oxidant and no alkali additive. Cu2-MnOx was reusable and achieved 95.8% conversion even after five reuse tests. Selectivity decreased slightly with the increase in reuse time, which could be attributed to the leaching of the Cu element. Comparison of structure-activity relationships showed increased catalytic activity when Mn3+ and adsorbed oxygen content were highest among these amorphous manganese oxides. Mn4+ content was related to the formation of quinoline N-oxide by over oxidation. Despite their high Mn3+ content and Mn3+/Mn4+ ratio, Cu2-450 and Cu2-550 had reduced surface area, adsorbed oxygen content, and lattice oxygen mobility, which resulted in poor catalytic performance. Although Cu3-MnOx had the largest BET surface area, highest lattice oxygen mobility, and similar Mn3+ and adsorbed oxygen content as Cu2-MnOx, the smaller average pore diameter of Cu3-MnOx perhaps caused its conversion and selectivity to be similar to Cu2-MnOx. The amorphous nature, Mn3+ and adsorbed oxygen content, Mn3+/Mn4+ ratio, lattice oxygen mobility, and synergistic effect between CuO and MnOx were found to play key roles in catalytic performance. The absence of precious metals, the simple catalyst preparation process, the cheap air as the sole oxidant, no ligand and alkali, the mild reaction conditions, along with catalyst reusability and easy isolation of the aromatized products made our catalytic protocol both green and environmentally benign.
With the ongoing depletion of fossil fuels, the exploration of sustainable energy resources and advanced energy technologies is necessary and the development of clean and sustainable energy storage devices has become an important topic worldwide. In this regard, rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors (SCs) are currently considered to be promising electrochemical energy storage systems for widespread applications in electronic devices, electric vehicles, and smart-grid energy storage stations. Batteries typically exhibit high energy densities but are limited by their low power density and relatively poor cycling performance. In contrast, SCs exhibit high power density, stable cyclability, and good safety, but the energy densities of SCs are generally inferior to those of batteries, which hinders their widespread application. A reliable approach to addressing this issue is to fabricate hybrid supercapacitors (HSCs) composed of battery-type and capacitive electrodes. This device configuration enables the direct integration of the high energy densities of batteries and high power densities of SCs, making HSCs a promising class of energy storage devices. However, the mismatch of capacity and rate performance between the battery-type and capacitive electrodes hinders the widespread applications of HSCs. A key challenge for the development of high-performance HSCs is to optimize the balance between both electrodes. Recently, tremendous efforts have been focused on the search for suitable electrodes and considerable progress has been achieved. Nevertheless, in traditional electrodes, binders are commonly used to combine individual active materials with conductive additives. Unfortunately, these binders are generally electrochemically inactive and insulating, reducing the overall specific capacity/capacitance and deteriorating the charge/mass transport. Recently, binder-free nanoarray electrodes have provided a promising opportunity for designing effective HSCs owing to the merits of their direct electron transport pathway, short ion diffusion length, and ordered-structure-enabled abundant reaction sites. This review briefly addresses the energy storage mechanism of HSCs and the advantages of array electrodes, and subsequently reviews the recent advances in emerging HSCs developed by our group. The performance-electrode structure relationship is discussed from the perspective of devices featuring different electrolytes, including organic, aqueous neutral and aqueous alkaline electrolytes. Moreover, some solutions are put forward to solve the existing issues of HSCs, and the potential applications of array electrode-based HSCs in flexible/wearable electronics are envisioned. Finally, the challenges and future development trends of HSCs are proposed.
This paper reports, for the first time, a gold-silver alloy film based broadband spectral surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRI) sensor that enables in situ quantitative detection of chemical and biological molecules adsorbed on the partial or entire surface of the alloy film. The use of the gold-silver alloy film as the sensing layer makes the SPRI sensor lower in detection cost and higher in detection sensitivity as compared with the conventional sensor with a pure gold film. The gold-silver alloy films of ~50 nm thicknesses were deposited on glass substrates using a sputtering target made of gold (50%)-silver (50%, w, mass fraction) alloy. Both the SPR spectra and SPR color images for the gold-silver alloy films covered with pure water were measured at different incident angles using the laboratory-made Krestchmann-type multifunctional platform. The two-dimensional (2D) hue profile and the average hue for each SPR color image were obtained by calculation with the hue algorithm. Using the average hue as the sensitivity parameter, the spectral SPRI sensor enables quantitative detection. The spectral range in which the average hue is most sensitive to refractive index (RI) changes of bulk solution and to molecular adsorption was determined to be between 595 and 610 nm. In this narrow spectral range the average hue is linearly dependent on the resonant wavelength and its slope (representing the hue variation induced by per unit change in resonant wavelength) is Δhue/ΔλR = 7.52 nm-1, implying that the hue-based RI sensitivity is 7.52 times as high as the wavelength-based RI sensitivity. This implication was experimentally demonstrated in this work. After setting the initial resonant wavelength of the sensor in the hue-sensitive spectral range, the hue-based RI sensitivity of the SPRI sensor was measured to be S = 29879 RIU-1, which is 8 times higher than that obtained with the gold-film SPR chip under the same conditions (S = 3658 RIU-1 for the gold-film SPR chip). Nonspecific adsorption of bovine serum albumin (BSA) molecules on the gold-silver alloy film was monitored in real time by the time-resolved spectral SPRI method, and the temporal change in the average hue was obtained. The time required for BSA adsorption to reach equilibrium is determined to be about 15 min. This study illustrates that the gold-silver alloy film based SPRI sensor has the powerful capability of quantitative detection of sub-monomolecular adsorption of proteins.
Leucine zipper-functionalized liposomes are promising drug carriers for cancer treatment because of their unique thermosensitivity. The leucine zippers, which consist of two α-helical polypeptides that dimerize in parallel, have characteristic heptad repeats (represented by [abcdefg]n). A leucine residue was observed periodically at site "d" to stabilize the dimerization of the two polypeptides through inter-chain hydrophobic interactions. As the temperature increased, the inter-chain hydrophobic interactions became weaker, eventually triggering the dissociation of the leucine zippers. Due to the unique nature of the temperature response, leucine zippers are useful for developing novel lipid-peptide vesicles for drug delivery because they allow for better control and optimization of drug release under mild hyperthermia. The base sequence of the leucine zipper peptides used in our lab for the functionalize liposomal carrier is [VAQLEVK-VAQLESK-VSKLESK-VSSLESK]. Our recent experiments revealed that modifying this peptide at the N-terminus with distinct functional groups can change the physicochemical properties of the lipopeptides, and eventually affect the liposomes' phase transition behaviors. Four leucine zipper-structured lipopeptides with distinct head groups, viz. ALA, C3CO, C5CO, and POCH, were studied computationally to examine the influence of the molecular structures on the phase transition behaviors of lipopeptides. A series of computational techniques including quantum mechanics (QM) calculations, implicit solvation replica exchange molecular dynamics (REMD) simulations, dihedral principal component analysis (dPCA), and dictionary of protein secondary structure (DSSP) methods, and the conventional explicit solvation molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were applied in this work. First, QM calculations were conducted to obtain the partial charges of some modified head groups. Implicit-solvent REMD simulations were then performed to study the effect of temperature on the folded conformations of the leucine zipper peptides. The dPCA method was used to simulate trajectories to identify representative structures of the peptides at various temperatures, and the DSSP method was used to determine conformation transitions of the four lipopeptides ALA, C3CO, C5CO, and POCH at 324.8, 312.1, 319.1, and 319.4 K, respectively. The thermostability of the lipopeptide dimers in the lipid DPPC bilayer was studied in the conventional explicit solvent MD simulations. Finally, we conducted a deep analysis on the area per lipid and the electron-density profile for the DPPC bilayer to explore the folding and unfolding processes of the lipopeptides in the liposomes to better understand the underlying phase transition mechanisms of the thermosensitive liposomes. On this basis, we could further improve the thermosensitivity of the leucine zipper-structured lipopeptides, thereby facilitating the development of liposomal drug delivery techniques in the future.
High-temperature (700–900 ℃) steam electrolysis based on solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) is valuable as an efficient and clean path for large-scale hydrogen production with nearly zero carbon emissions, compared with the traditional paths of steam methane reforming or coal gasification. The operation parameters, in particular the feeding gas composition and pressure, significantly affect the performance of the electrolysis cell. In this study, a computational fluid dynamics model of an SOEC is built to predict the electrochemical performance of the cell with different sweep gases on the oxygen electrode. Sweep gases with different oxygen partial pressures between 1.01 × 103 and 1.0 × 105 Pa are fed to the oxygen electrode of the cell, and the influence of the oxygen partial pressure on the chemical equilibrium and kinetic reactions of the SOECs is analyzed. It is shown that the rate of increase of the reversible potential is inversely proportional to the oxygen partial pressure. Regarding the overpotentials caused by the ohmic, activation, and concentration polarization, the results vary with the reversible potential. The Ohmic overpotential is constant under different operating conditions. The activation and concentration overpotentials at the hydrogen electrode are also steady over the entire oxygen partial pressure range. The oxygen partial pressure has the largest effect on the activation and concentration overpotentials on the oxygen electrode side, both of which decrease sharply with increasing oxygen partial pressure. Owing to the combined effects of the reversible potential and polarization overpotentials, the total electrolysis voltage is nonlinear. At low current density, the electrolysis cell shows better performance at low oxygen partial pressure, whereas the performance improves with increasing oxygen partial pressure at high current density. Thus, at low current density, the best sweep gas should be an oxygen-deficient gas such as nitrogen, CO2, or steam. Steam is the most promising because it is easy to separate the steam from the by-product oxygen in the tail gas, provided that the oxygen electrode is humidity-tolerant. However, at high current density, it is best to use pure oxygen as the sweep gas to reduce the electric energy consumption in the steam electrolysis process. The effects of the oxygen partial pressure on the power density and coefficient of performance of the SOEC are also discussed. At low current density, the electrical power demand is constant, and the efficiency decreases with growing oxygen partial pressure, whereas at high current density, the electrical power demand drops, and the efficiency increases.
The preparation of plasmonic metal-based substrates has been a hot research topic during the past decades in the area of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS). The localized surface plasmon resonance effect of plasmonic metal nanostructures enhances the electromagnetic field for SERS analysis, thereby making SERS an extremely sensitive detection technique. However, commonly developed plasmonic metal substrates exhibit poor stability and reproducibility. Since the separation of graphene from graphite, graphene has been widely used in various fields because of its unique physical, chemical, electronic, and optical properties. In the field of SERS, graphene has been used for graphene-enhanced Raman scattering, which makes use of the chemical enhancement mechanism in SERS. In addition, it has capabilities of surface molecular enrichment, quenching fluorescence, surface homogenization, and has strong chemical stability. Due to these characteristics of graphene, SERS substrates based on graphene-metal nanocapsules have attracted the attention of researchers. In this work, a small size gold-graphitic nanocapsules (Au@G) was prepared by chemical vapor deposition (CVD). The material exhibits a core-shell structure consisting of a graphitized carbon layer coated on Au nanoparticles (Au NPs). The Au NP core of the Au@G provides a major enhancement factor for Raman analysis, and the external graphitized carbon shell ensures strong chemical stability of the material. The Au@G exhibits a uniform particle size with diameter ~17 nm. In order to control the size of the Au@G, tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS) and tetraethylorthotrimethylammonium bromide were used as the raw material and template, respectively, a 45 nm-thick layer of mesoporous silica was coated on the synthesized Au NPs. The presence of the mesoporous silica capping layer prevented aggregation and particle size growth of the Au NPs during high-temperature CVD. At the same time, we studied the effect of TEOS concentration on the growth of the graphitized carbon layer during CVD. The results revealed that a decrease of the TEOS concentration is conducive for obtaining a high graphitic Au@G, and the concentration of TEOS does not affect the particle size of the Au@G. Raman detection of crystal violet molecules using Au@G demonstrated the latter's good Raman enhancement effect. The Au@G prepared by high-temperature CVD exhibits a clean surface with no impurities. It is an SERS substrate with both physical and chemical enhancement. The unique Raman spectral peaks and small size of Au@G ensure its great potential for use in the fields of molecular detection and cell imaging analysis.
Driven by the wide-scale implementation of intermittent renewable energy generating technologies, such as wind and solar, sodium-ion batteries have recently attracted attention as an inexpensive energy storage system due to the abundance, low cost, and relatively low redox potential of sodium. However, in comparison with lithium-ion batteries, which are known for long cycle life, sodium-ion batteries usually suffer from significant capacity fading during long-term cycling due to the large volume expansion/contraction of the electrode active materials caused by insertion/extraction of the large sodium ion. In recent years, intense effort has been focused on the search for high performance electrode materials and electrolytes to improve the cyclability of sodium-ion batteries, and some progress has been achieved. The incorporation of additives into the electrolyte is a simple and efficient method of improving the cycle stability of sodium-ion batteries. Fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC) is generally considered to be a suitable additive for the formation of the anode solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), due to a relatively low-lying lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO). However, it is suggested that FEC it will not be oxidized on the cathode since it also has a relatively low highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO). In this study, we investigated the effect of FEC as an additive on the cycle life of a sodium-ion battery with a P2-NaxCo0.7Mn0.3O2 (x ≈ 1) layered sodium transition metal oxide as the cathode active material, a sodium metal foil anode, a glass fiber separator, and an electrolyte composed of NaClO4 and a varying mass content of FEC dissolved in propylene carbonate (PC). We analyzed the effect of the FEC additive on the morphology and chemical composition of the separator and cathode electrode surface using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), infrared spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and studied the evolution of the crystalline structure of the cathode active material during charge and discharge using in situ X-ray diffraction (XRD). We found that an appropriate amount of FEC additive significantly suppressed the decomposition of the PC solvent, and assisted the formation of a NaF-rich protective layer on the cathode surface, which helped to maintain the structural stability of the cathode material, thereby improving the cycle stability of the sodium-ion battery. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations showed that FEC coordinates more readily with the ClO4- anion on the cathode surface than does the PC solvent. This drives the formation of the NaF-rich protective layer on the cathode surface. We believe these results could provide inspiration in the design of electrolyte additives for protection of the sodium cathode during cycling, thus improving the cycling performance of sodium-ion batteries.
Pyridones represent an important family of heterocycles that exhibit a wide range of biological activities. They are often found in pharmaceutical agents and biomolecules. Several transition-metal-catalyzed transformations have been developed to access this family of heterocycles. Among them, C―H bond activation has recently emerged as a general strategy for the construction of substituted pyridones. In most cases, the core nitrogen-containing heterocycle is assembled via the dehydrogenative annulation of α, β-unsaturated amides and alkynes. Such processes involve a cascade sequence of N―H cleavage, sp2 C―H activation, and annulation. Despite this progress, the more readily available α, β-saturated amides are rarely used. Ideally, tethering the direct dehydrogenation of an amide with the above-mentioned C―H annulation cascade would give a more practical synthesis of pyridones. Nevertheless, the dehydrogenation of amides under mild conditions is a synthetic challenge due to their intrinsic weak α-acidity. Recently, we have reported a general protocol for the aerobic dehydrogenation of γ, δ-unsaturated amides, acids, and ketones. A key Ir―allyl intermediate was believed responsible for enhancing the α-acidity of the amides studied, which enables the dehydrogenation step to occur under mild reaction conditions. Herein, we describe a new method for the synthesis of polysubstituted pyridones using γ, δ-unsaturated amides and alkynes. In the presence of [RhCp*Cl2]2, the dehydrogenation step occurs via β-C―H bond activation. The resulting π-allyl―Rh intermediate undergoes an accelerated dehydrogenation reaction to afford the doubly unsaturated amide. This in-situ generated dienamide undergoes sp2 C―H activation at the β-position and a subsequent alkyne insertion/cyclization reaction to yield the target heterocycle. Regeneration of the Rh catalyst is accomplished using an external oxidant and completes the streamlined double C―H activation and double dehydrogenation catalytic cycle. Various functional groups are well tolerated. The γ-alkenyl moiety not only facilitates the direct dehydrogenation of amides, but also serves as a handle for further derivatization of the as-obtained products. To gain a mechanistic insight into the reaction cascade, a set of control experiments were carried out. The results demonstrate that the dienamide is one of the key reaction intermediates. NMR experiments confirmed that the fast dehydrogenation process occurs during the early stage of the reaction. The alkyne insertion is believed to be the rate-determining step in the reaction cascade, as suggested by competition experiments.
Transition-metal-catalyzed C―H bond activation, which has been widely applied to construct new covalent bonds, has emerged as one of the most effective strategies in synthetic chemistry due to atom economy and simple procedure. In this review, we have summarized the recent reports on the theoretical mechanistic study of transition-metal-catalyzed C―H bond cleavage. Based on these comprehensive theoretical studies, we have systematically discussed the general modes of C―H bond activation, which involves oxidative addition, base-assisted deprotonation, σ-metathesis, Friedel-Crafts-type electrophilic aromatic substitution, α- or β-hydrogen elimination, and hydrogen atom abstraction. From a mechanistic point of view, C―H bond activation by oxidative addition generally involves a zero-valent transition metal catalyst with strong reducibility, which requires a low activation barrier. The concerted metalation-deprotonation (CMD)-type C―H bond cleavage often occurs via a six-membered cyclic transition state using transition metal carboxylate as the catalyst with a directing group, which is a common mechanism for transition metals with high oxidation states. Base-assisted internal electrophilic substitution (BIES)-type C―H bond activation is commonly performed in the presence of cationic transition metal catalysts, in which electron-rich arenes react preferentially compared to electron-deficient arenes. In some other cases, outer-sphere base-assisted deprotonation can also result in C―H activation, which is dependent on the strength of the base used. The stronger the base used, the lower the energy barrier, and thus, the easier it is to protonate. The σ-metathesis pathway, which could occur via a four-membered cyclic transition state, is often considered an alternative for concerted metalation-deprotonation. If the aromatic hydrocarbon is attacked by electrophiles, the C―H bond can be activated by Friedel-Crafts-type electrophilic aromatic substitution. Elimination of α- or β-hydrogen is also frequently proposed for transition-metal-catalyzed C―H functionalization. Hydrogen atom abstraction could achieve C―H bond activation via a free radical process. Moreover, the C―H bonds of hydrocarbons can be considered weak nucleophiles because the electronegativity of carbon is higher than that of hydrogen, and they could be converted to strong nucleophiles (C―M) in the presence of transition metal catalysts via the different pathways mentioned above. It enables further functionalization with electrophiles or nucleophiles to construct complex molecular skeletons. Summarizing the general modes of C―H bond activation will increase our understanding of the associated chemical mechanism and will pave the way for new synthetic strategies. This review aims to offer theoretical guidance for experimental studies and inspire new reaction design by summarizing the modes of transition-metal-catalyzed C―H bond activation.
Na-ion batteries are currently an emerging and low-cost energy storage technology, which have attracted enormous attention and research due to its promising potentiality for large-scale energy storage applications. As the key electrode materials for Na-ion batteries, non-graphite carbonaceous materials have been regarded as the best choice for practical application due to its high sodium storage activity, low-cost and non-toxicity. According to the current research, graphite materials are not suitable to be anode materials of Na-ion batteries for practical application due to its low sodium storage capacity in carbonate electrolytes. Hard carbons have a high capacity of ~300 mAh·g-1 with low sodium storage potential and thus are suitable for practical applications. Soft carbons have a sodium storage capacity about 200 mAh·g-1 with sodium storage potential below 1 V vs. Na+/Na. Soft carbons usually exhibit excellent rate performances and thus are suitable to be used as anode materials for power Na-ion batteries. Reduced graphene oxide (rGO) has a sodium storage capacity of about 220 mAh·g-1 and excellent rate performances. A high sodium storage capacity can be obtained by doping heteroatoms and introducing defect sites in rGO. However, the low material density, high sodium storage potential and large irreversible capacity of rGO will restrict its practical application. Porous carbons have high capacities of 300-450 mAh·g-1 with excellent rate performances because their developed porous structure can provide more defects as the active sites for sodium storage and shorten the diffusion path of Na+ to improve rate performances. Carbon nanowires/fibers have good flexibility due to their unique one-dimensional feature and stable sodium storage reversible capacity with good rate performance. These materials have advantages to be flexible electrodes for sodium-based flexible energy storage devices. By introducing N, S and other heteroatoms, heteroatom-doped carbons have more active sites for sodium storage and thus achieve higher sodium storage capacity. In summary, carbon materials with low graphitization degree are important development directions for anode materials of low cost Na-ion batteries. New carbon materials with unique microstructure and morphology have higher sodium storage capacity and rate capability, so they can be used as high power anode materials for sodium storage. Considering many factors, such as cycle life, energy density, power density and manufacturing cost, of practical application, hard carbon anodes is currently the best choice for practical application of Na-ion batteries. In the future, improving SEI stability, increasing Coulombic efficiency and improving electrical conductivity of hard carbon are urgent problems to be solved for practical application. Herein, the recent progress of carbonaceous anode materials is reviewed. The sodium storage mechanism and characteristics of carbon materials are summarized and discussed. Furthermore, the relationship between micro-structures and electrochemical performances, and remained problems of carbon anodes are discussed. This review will promote the development and understanding of carbon anode materials for sodium storage.
The E/Z isomerization reaction is found extensively in most organic molecules containing double bond unit. This limits their practical application as luminescent materials partly, especially under photoirradiation. Therefore, it is important to obtain E/Z isomers with stable configuration in the excited state after photoirradiation. It is well known that cyanostilbene and its analogues play an important role in the development of organic opto/electronic materials. The substituted cyano group on C＝C double bonds has strong electron-withdrawing ability and large steric hindrance, which benefits the formation of donor-acceptor (D-A) structures and formation of intramolecular charge transfer. In our previous work, we reported a triphenylamine-cyanostilbene molecule (TPNCF) formed by modifying the cyanostilbene structure with triphenylamine, which maintained a stable E/Z configuration as a film and in high polar solvents. According to solvatochromism mechanisms and the results of theoretical calculations, we proposed that the charge transfer (CT) excited state between the triphenylamine donor and cyanostilbene acceptor groups induced the stable configuration of the E- and Z- isomers under photoirradiation. Under irradiation, the E/Z isomerization process occurring at a higher energy locally excited (LE) state was suppressed by a rapid internal conversion process from the LE to CT state. This work inspired us to provide a universal and effective molecular design strategy by modifying D-A substituents on double bonds that can successfully stabilize E/Z isomers. To further confirm that the CT excited state induced stable E- and Z- isomers in the cyanostilbene structure under photoirradiation, we designed and synthesized a donor-acceptor phenoxazine-cyanostilbene molecule (PZNCF) and successfully characterized its two E/Z isomers. In comparison with the reported TPNCF molecule, the in-situ NMR and UV spectra of E- and Z- isomers of PZNCF demonstrated that the E/Z isomerization rate became slower under photoirradiation, which indicated that the stronger electron-donating group of phenoxazine substituted in the cyanostilbene structure induced a more stable E/Z isomer configuration in its excited state. DFT calculations and photophysical results indicated that a stronger CT state was generated in both E- and Z- isomers of PZNCF. This further confirmed our hypothesized mechanism where the stable E/Z configuration can be obtained under photoirradiation by forming a suitable donor-acceptor structure to suppress the E/Z isomerization reaction in the LE state by a rapid internal crossing process from the LE to CT state. This molecular design strategy is of great significance to organic photochemistry and photoelectronics for molecules with double bond units.
Kerosene is an ideal endothermic hydrocarbon. Its pyrolysis plays a significant role in the thermal protection for high-speed aircraft. Before it reacts, kerosene experiences thermal decomposition in the heat exchanger and produces cracked products. Thus, to use cracked kerosene instead of pure kerosene, knowledge of their ignition properties is needed. In this study, ignition delay times of cracked kerosene/air and kerosene/air were measured in a heated shock tube at temperatures of 657–1333 K, an equivalence ratio of 1.0, and pressures of 1.01 × 105–10.10 × 105 Pa. Ignition delay time was defined as the time interval between the arrival of the reflected shock and the occurrence of the steepest rise of excited-state CH species (CH*) emission at the sidewall measurement location. Pure helium was used as the driver gas for high-temperature measurements in which test times needed to be shorter than 1.5 ms, and tailored mixtures of He/Ar were used when test times could reach up to 15 ms. Arrhenius-type formulas for the relationship between ignition delay time and ignition conditions (temperature and pressure) were obtained by correlating the measured high-temperature data of both fuels. The results reveal that the ignition delay times of both fuels are close, and an increase in the pressure or temperature causes a decrease in the ignition delay time in the high-temperature region (> 1000 K). Both fuels exhibit similar high-temperature ignition delay properties, because they have close pressure exponents (cracked kerosene: τign∝P-0.85; kerosene:τign∝P-0.83) and global activation energies (cracked kerosene: Ea = 143.37 kJ·mol-1; kerosene: Ea = 144.29 kJ·mol-1). However, in the low-temperature region (< 1000 K), ignition delay characteristics are quite different. For cracked kerosene/air, while the decrease in the temperature still results in an increase in the ignition delay time, the negative temperature coefficient (NTC) of ignition delay does not occur, and the low-temperature ignition data still can be correlated by an Arrhenius-type formula with a much smaller global activation energy compared to that at high temperatures. However, for kerosene/air, this NTC phenomenon was observed, and the Arrhenius-type formula fails to correlate its low-temperature ignition data. At temperatures ranging from 830 to 1000 K, the cracked kerosene ignites faster than the kerosene; at temperatures below 830 K, kerosene ignition delay times become much shorter than those of cracked kerosene. Surrogates for cracked kerosene and kerosene are proposed based on the H/C ratio and average molecular weight in order to simulate ignition delay times for cracked kerosene/air and kerosene/air. The simulation results are in fairly good agreement with current experimental data for the two fuels at high temperatures (> 1000 K). However, in the low-temperature NTC region, the results are in very good agreement with kerosene ignition delay data but disagree with cracked kerosene ignition delay data. The comparison between experimental data and model predictions indicates that refinement of the reaction mechanisms for cracked kerosene and kerosene is needed. These test results are helpful to understand ignition properties of cracked kerosene in developing regenerative cooling technology for high-speed aircraft.
Accurate and rapid detection of organic amines in the vapor phase is essential for various applications such as agricultural use, industrial and environmental testing, and food security. Supramolecular gels composed of cholesterol derivative-based low-molecular-mass gelators (LMMGs) have attracted considerable attention owing to their unique character and formation mechanisms. In this study, a ZnS-supramolecular organogel hybrid film for amine vapor sensors was reported. It must be pointed out that the method of preparation of hybrid films considered here is different from that of the ZnS-organogel hybrid films previously reported. Because the sensing performance of nanomaterials strongly depends on their nanostructures, it is expected that nanomaterials synthesized by different methods exhibit different nanostructures and ultimately different sensing properties. The luminescent ZnS nanoparticles were first prepared by the oil-water interface method, before being dispersed in an organic solution containing the LMMG. Finally, the aforementioned solution was casted onto the surface of a glass substrate to fabricate a ZnS-supramolecular organogel fluorescent hybrid film after drying at room temperature. Scanning electron microscopy observations revealed that the surface morphology of the hybrid film was uniform cross-linked nanofibers. Transmission electron microscopy results revealed that the average particle size of the obtained ZnS nanoparticles is about 200 nm. The crystal structure of the ZnS nanoparticles is cubic, as revealed by X-ray diffraction. The photoluminescence emission spectra of the ZnS-supramolecular organogel film were recorded for various quantities of ZnS loading; the maximum emission wavelength of the hybrid films hardly changed, indicating that the dispersity of the ZnS nanoparticles in the hybrids is very well. Because the film network formed by the gelator has a good confinement effect on the ZnS nanoparticles, the hybrid film exhibits stable luminescence performance. Sensing experiments showed that the hybrid films are sensitive to the existence of organic monoamine and diamine vapors, and the sensitivity improved as the dosage of ZnS nanoparticles was increased. The quenching mechanism was discussed by comparing the fluorescence lifetimes of the hybrid films in the presence of air and ethylenediamine (EDA) vapor. It was found that the sensing mechanism is mainly static quenching, with a very small amount of dynamic quenching. The sensing performances of the film for common volatile organic compounds were investigated with a detection limit of 10.13 ppm (1 ppm = 1 × 10-6, volume fraction) obtained for the EDA vapor. Reversible experiments indicated that the films have a good reversible response in the presence of EDA vapor. It is anticipated that this type of supramolecular organogel hybrid film could find applications in the monitoring of volatile organic amines in the areas of industry and environment.
Carbon materials can offer various micro- and nanostructures as well as bulk and surface functionalities; hence, they remain the most popular for manufacturing supercapacitors. This article critically reviews recent developments in the preparation of carbon materials from new precursors for supercapacitors. Typical examples are activated carbon (AC) and graphene, which can be prepared from various conventional and new precursors such as biomass, polymers, graphite oxide, CH4, and even CO2 via innovative processes to achieve low-cost and/or high specific capacitance. Specifically, when producing AC from natural biomasses or synthetic polymers, either new, spent, or waste, popular activation agents, such as KOH and ZnCl2, are often used to process the ACs derived from these new precursors while the respective activation mechanisms always attract interest. The traditional two-step calcination process at high temperatures is widely employed to achieve high performance, with or without retaining the morphology of the precursors. The three-step calcination, including a post-vacuum treatment, is also the preferred choice in many cases, but it can increase the cost per capacity (kWh∙g−1). More recently, one-step molecular activation promises a better and more economical approach to the commercial application of AC, although further increase of the yield is necessary. In addition to activation, graphitization, N doping, and template control can further improve ACs in terms of the charging and discharging rates, or pseudocapacitance, or both. Considerations are also given to material structure design, and carbon regeneration during activation. Metal-organic frameworks, which were initially used as templates, have been found to be good direct carbon precursors. Various graphene structures, including powders, films, aerogels, foams, and fibers, can be produced from graphite oxide, CO2, and CH4. Similar to AC, graphene can possess micropores by activation. Self-propagating high-temperature synthesis and molten salt processing are newly-reported methods for fabrication of mesoporous graphene. Macroporous graphene hydrogels can be produced by hydrothermal treatment of graphite oxide suspension, which can also be transferred into films. Hierarchically porous structures can be achieved by H2O2 etching or ZnCl2 activation of the macroporous graphene precursor. Sponges as templates combined with KOH activation are applied to create both micro- and macropores in graphene foams. Graphene can grow on fibers and textiles by electrodeposition, dip-coating, or filtration, which can be woven into clothes with a large area or thick loading, illuminating the potential application in flexible and wearable supercapacitors. The key obstacles in AC and graphene production are high cost, low yield, low packing density, and low working potential range. Most Carbon materials derived from new precursors work very well with aqueous electrolytes. Charge storage occurs not only in the electric double layer (i.e., the "carbon | electrolyte" interface), but also via redox activity in association with the bulk and surface functionalities, and the resulting partial delocalization of valence electrons. The analysis of the capacitive electrode has shown a design defect that prevents the working voltage of a symmetrical supercapacitor from reaching the full potential window of the carbon material. This defect can be avoided in AC-based supercapacitors with unequal electrode capacitances, leading to higher cell voltages and hence higher specific energy than their symmetrical counterparts. There are also emerging ways to raise the energy capacity of AC supercapacitors, such as the use of redox electrolytes to enable the Nernstian charge storage mechanism, and of the three dimensional printing method for a desirable electrode structure. All these developments are promising carbon materials from various precursors of new and waste sources for a more affordable and sustainable supercapacitor technology.
Owing to their high power density, excellent rate performance, and good cycle performance, supercapacitors are widely used for energy storage applications. Two-dimensional (2D) layered materials are structural compounds having a layered host structure with a layer thickness of nanometers and a lateral dimension of several micrometers. Their layer spacing can be controlled by changing the interaction between the layers. 2D layered materials can be delaminated into nanosheets. Exfoliated nanosheet materials provide a new strategy for improving the performance of supercapacitors. Unlike bulk layered materials, the exfoliated nanosheets not only provide a unique nano-scale reaction space for electrochemical reactions, but also offer the possibility for improving the specific capacitance and storage rate of the supercapacitor. However, in 2D layered materials, the ion or electron transport in the vertical direction is obstructed, despite their fast ion and electron transport in the horizontal direction. As a result, the occurrence of electrode reactions, and hence the realization of rapid storage become difficult. It is detrimental to the power and energy densities and rapid energy storage of supercapacitors. Therefore, it is imperative to develop novel electrode materials in order to fabricate supercapacitors showinghigh energy densities at high power densities.
Porous 2D layered electrode materials offer two major advantages. First, the porous structure can alleviate the problems caused by the stacking of nanosheets during the assembly process. Second, the porous structure can effectively promote the electrolyte penetration of the electrode, which alleviates the volume changes of the electrode material during the charging-discharging process and releases the structural strain. Hence, such materials facilitate ion or electron transport, thus increasing the specific capacitance of the supercapacitor. Over the past few years, 2D nanosheet holeization has evolved as a promising approach to improve the energy density of supercapacitors at high power densities. Various porous 2D layered supercapacitor electrode materials have been developed. This paper reviews the exfoliation of 2D layered materials, nanosheet holeization strategy, and the application of assembled porous layered electrode materials in supercapacitors. In this paper, we have reviewed the exfoliation of 2D layered materials with different electric properties and the performance of 2D nanosheets. Different methods used for the preparation of holey 2D nanosheets have also been discussed. We prepared holey MnO2 nanosheets and reduced graphite oxide via redox holeization mechanism, and 2D porous nanomaterials were also prepared by using suitable templates such as hard or self-sustaining templates. These holey 2D nanosheets were used to prepare porous 2D layered electrode materials such as holey graphene/manganese dioxide composite fibers and holey graphene/polypyrrole hybrid aerogels. The capacitance of these electrode materials was investigated systematically. Finally, the prospects for the development of porous 2D layered electrode materials such as the optimization of theirrate performance, flexibility, and energy density were discussed. Novel holeization methods should be developed in order to prepare metal oxide nanosheets with controllable hole sizes. In addition, other 2D materials such as MXene should be explored.
Methane, the most abundant constituent of natural gas, is a potential substitute for the dwindling petroleum resources for the chemical industry as a carbon-based feedstock. Over the last two decades, global research endeavors have focused on the development of more efficient and selective catalysts for the conversion of ubiquitous but inert methane. In addition, the transportation of gaseous methane in pipelines is unavoidably accompanied by leakage, and methane is recognized as a potent greenhouse gas (20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide per molecule). Thus, the conversion of methane into heavier derivatives is also of crucial environmental concern. Unfortunately, there is still a lack of economical and practical routes for methane conversion. Currently, the major route for methane conversion is the steam reforming of methane into synthetic gases, which is a multistep and energy-consuming route. Another option is to use photoenergy to drive the conversion of methane, which has significant advantages such as the capacity to minimize coking by running at room temperature. A promising approach to photocatalytic methane conversion is the photo-powered direct coupling or oxidation of methane to form ethane, methanol and hydrogen. The ethane or methanol produced can, in turn, be converted into ethene or liquid fuels through metathesis or dehydrogenation, respectively. Furthermore, the direct dehydrogenation of methane is the best way to produce clean H2 energy from fossil fuels since methane has the highest H/C ratio among hydrocarbons. However, the methane conversion efficiency of previously reported photocatalysts is low. Furthermore, the wavelength of light used in previously reported photocatalytic systems usually needs to be less than 270 nm, which is beyond the range of the solar spectrum (wavelength λ > 290 nm) reaching the Earth's surface. To achieve substantial yield and selectivity, and to exploit solar energy effectively, the development of photocatalytic systems with distinctly higher activity, higher selectivity, and lower photon energy threshold is desired. Over the past decades, many efforts have been made to activate the strong C―H bond in methane by light at room temperature. Based on the current state of research on photocatalytic methane conversion, we have focused our review on the following aspects: non-oxidative coupling of methane, dehydroaromatization of methane, and total and partial oxidation of methane. Finally, we summarize the difference between photocatalysis and thermal catalysis in the methane conversion reaction.
Thioesters, which are essential sulfur-containing organic molecules, are indispensable in natural products, pharmaceuticals, and organic light-emitting materials. Efficient synthesis of thioethers has received considerable attention due to the widespread applications of these compounds, and many fundamental approaches for C―S bond formation have been proposed. However, most of them construct C―S bonds by employing organic halides/organic boronic acid. These methodologies generally suffer from a pre-functionalized starting material. Recently, selective C―H functionalization emerged as a powerful tool for the synthesis of C―N, C―O, C―C, and C-halogen bonds. Nevertheless, C―S bond formation via C―H functionalization has only recently been given more importance because organosulfur compounds are believed to inactivate catalysts. In contrast to traditional cross-coupling reactions, direct functionalization of C―H bonds for the synthesis of thioethers can shorten the reaction steps and minimize the amount of waste formed. In this review, which is divided into several parts, we describe C―H functionalization strategies for the construction of thioethers. In Part Ⅰ, we introduce the importance and widespread applications of thioethers in daily life. For example, Lissoclibadin 6 is a polysulfur aromatic alkaloid that shows antimicrobial activity. Seroquel is an antipsychotic medicine. It is used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in adults, and children who are at least 10 years old. Tazarotene is approved for the treatment of psoriasis, acne, and sun-damaged skin. Furthermore, a comparison between conventional synthesis methods and C―H thiolation is discussed. In Part Ⅱ, we introduce copper-catalyzed or copper-mediated C―H thiolation. Along with the direct functionalization of sp2 and sp C―H for the synthesis of aryl sulfides, some significant and challenging thiolations of sp3 C―H are included. In addition to copper, palladium is an excellent catalyst for C―H functionalization. In Part Ⅲ, we elucidate palladium-catalyzed C―H thiolation and discuss many proposed mechanisms. Nickel, which is a first-flow, low-cost, and earth-abundant metal catalyst, has increasingly gained attention. In contrast to copper and palladium, despite its late start, several remarkable reports on nickel-catalyzed C―H thiolation were published by several groups. Rhodium plays a key role in selective C―H functionalization. Some published results proved the capacity of rhodium catalysts to promote C―S construction via C―H functionalization. In Part Ⅳ, we introduce rhodium-catalyzed C―H thiolation. In recent years, metal-free C―H functionalization has been quite attractive. In Part Ⅴ, some C―S construction strategies via metal-free C―H functionalization are presented. In the last part, the conclusion discusses the limitations and possible development directions of these advances in the construction of thioethers.
Supercapacitors have attracted considerable attention as new-generation energy storage devices because of their high charge-discharge rate, ultralong lifetime, and high power density. However, the performance of supercapacitors is severely restricted by either the low intrinsic capacitance of porous carbons or the poor conductivity and sluggish electrochemical kinetics of pseudocapacitive components. Therefore, high-performance electrode materials integrated with high gravimetric and volumetric capacitances, high rate capability, and superb cycling stability are urgently needed. As emerging carbon nanomaterials, carbon-/graphene quantum dots (CDs/GQDs) have uniquely small particle sizes, abundant edge sites, and various functional groups, thus endowing them with great potential for developing high-performance electrode materials for supercapacitors. With the purpose of identifying the application advantages and critical problems of CDs/GQDs for supercapacitor electrodes, this review summarizes the development of CDs/GQDs, quantum dots (QDs)/conductive carbon, QDs/metal oxides, QDs/conductive polymer composites, and QD-derived carbon materials in recent years. In each section of this paper, we introduce the typical and updated studies from corresponding fields in terms of novel preparation routes, the crucial roles of CDs/GQDs in composite materials, and the electrochemical performance of electrode materials and assembled devices. Finally, the advantages and limitations of CD/GQD electrode materials are described, and the future development of QD-based materials is discussed. In general, the previous studies have shown that when directly used as electrode materials for micro-supercapacitors, CDs/GQDs performed at an ultrahigh charge-discharge rate of up to 1000 V∙s−1. However, because of the discontinuous conductive network and good dispersibility in electrolytes, they are not suitable for use in common devices because of poor cycle stability. One of the most promising means for fully realizing active ion storage sites for portable devices is to strongly anchor CDs/GQDs onto conductive carbon scaffolds such as activated carbon, graphene nanosheets, and carbon nanofibers. QDs simultaneously improve the capacitive and rate performance owing to the active sites and improved surface wettability of the composite materials. To further improve the capacitance and cycle stability of electrode materials, different types of QDs/pseudocapacitive material composites (metal oxides or conductive polymers) have been developed. QDs have been shown to increase entire conductivity, accelerate ion transport, and depress the volume expansion of metal oxides and conductive polymers. Benefiting from their small-sized structure and outstanding reactivity, CDs/GQDs can also be used as emerging precursors for constructing advanced carbon electrode materials. Several forward-looking studies have shown that QDs can be converted to carbon nanosheets, heteroatom-doped carbon, and dense and porous carbon blocks with high gravimetric/volumetric capacitances and remarkable rate performance for fast and compact energy storage. Although related fields have rapidly developed in recent years, several critical problems including those related to green and effective methods to prepare CDs/GQDs, construction of entire conductive networks without active sites being sacrificed, the synergistic effect, and the underlying mechanism of QDs in composite materials still must be solved. We hope that this review can provide inspiration and references for further investigation in this promising field.
The increased demand for high-performance supercapacitors has fueled the development of electrode materials. As an important part of supercapacitors, the electrochemical performance of the supercapacitor is directly affected by the specific surface area, conductivity, electrochemical activity, and stability of electrode materials. In the traditional manufacturing method, a binder must be added to powdered electrode materials to enhance their combination with the current collector, which could lead to morphology damage, pore blockage, and reduced conductivity of active materials that will adversely affect their electrochemical behavior. Thus, research on binder-free electrode materials has attracted significant interest. Recently, electrospun nanofibers have been widely used as supercapacitor electrode materials because of their advantages such as large specific surface area, high porosity, and easy preparation. The attainable continuity and flexibility endow electrospun nanofiber membranes outstanding performance among large numbers of binder-free materials. This review considers recent studies on electrospun nanofiber-based binder-free electrode materials for supercapacitors, including carbon nanofibers, carbon-based composite nanofibers, conductive polymer-based composite nanofibers, and metal oxide nanofibers. These studies demonstrate that pore structure construction, activation treatment, and nitrogen doping can improve the specific surface area, electrochemical activity, wettability, and graphitization degree of carbon nanofibers to enhance their electrochemical properties. Moreover, combining carbon nanofibers with metal oxides, metal sulfides, metal carbides, and conductive polymers by methods such as blending, chemical deposition, electrochemical deposition, etc., can improve their capacitance, rate performance, and cycling stabilities, which complement the advantages of different materials and proves that the performance of multicomponent materials is better than that of single-component materials. In particular, conductive polymers based on composite nanofibers and metal oxide nanofibers can be used as binder-free materials by electrospinning technology, but their dependence on other substances as well as fragile fiber membrane limit their widespread application. Therefore, in order to ensure the continuity or flexibility of fiber membranes, carbon-based composite nanofibers with multicomponent and hierarchical structure could potentially be used/constructed as binder-free electrode materials. Combinations with new types of electrode materials such as metal-organic frameworks (MOF), covalent organic frameworks (COF), MXenes, metal nitride, metal phosphide, etc., and the preparation of materials with novel structures have also been attempted. In order to realize the practical application of eletrospun nanofiber-based binder-free electrode materials, more attention should be given to improving their mechanical properties, production efficiency, and research on the application of flexible devices. We hope that this review can broaden ideas for improving the development and application of electrospun nanofiber-based binder-free electrode materials for high-performance supercapacitors.
With the discovery and large-scale exploitation of natural gas resources such as shale gas and combustible ice, which are mainly composed of methane, their effective utilization has become a national strategic interest. Partial oxidation of methane (POM) to synthesis gas is one of the important methods for the utilization of natural gas and shale gas resources. The commonly used Ni/SiO2 catalyst for POM easily deactivates due to carbon deposition on the surface. To solve this problem, a urea precipitation method was employed in this work to prepare Ni-based catalysts modified with different amounts of tungsten (at W/Ni molar ratios of 0, 0.01, 0.03, 0.05, 0.07, and 0.10), and the catalyst stability in POM as well as the role of W were investigated. From characterizations such as X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), temperature-programmed reduction (H2-TPR), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), we obtained the following results. The amount of W added to the Ni-based catalysts has a significant influence on their catalytic performances in POM and their physicochemical properties. The particle size of Ni in the catalysts decreases with W addition, and the Ni particle distribution on the support surfaces becomes more uniformed; however, the catalytic activity for POM is not significantly influenced. However, W-modified Ni-based catalysts show an increasing improvement in their stability in POM with increasing W/Ni molar ratio, with an optimum at the W/Ni molar ratio of 0.07; at the W/Ni molar ratio of 0.10, they exhibit a rapid deactivation in POM in a short time. Although interactions between Ni and SiO2 in the as-prepared catalysts are weak, the presence of adequate tungsten (W/Ni molar ratio of 0.05 and above) in the Ni-based catalysts can reduce the Ni particle size to some extent, and lead to the formation of strong interactions between Ni and W, which leads to an improvement in the dispersion of Ni on the support surface and imparts resistance for Ni particle growth in the POM reaction. The increased interaction between Ni and W changes the chemical state or oxygen affinity of Ni particles on the catalyst surfaces, and some of the partially oxidized Ni species (Niδ+) on the catalyst surfaces coexist with reduced Ni species (Ni0) during POM. Using an adequate amount of W-modified Ni catalysts results in almost no carbon deposition on the surfaces during POM, but using only a moderate amount results in good catalytic behavior and stability in POM. This finding suggests that the presence of W can not only enhance the anti-coking ability of the Ni-based catalysts and sustain their good stability in POM if the W content is low (i.e., W/Ni molar ratio of 0.07 and below), but also lead to the deactivation of W-modified catalysts in POM if the W content is high (i.e., W/Ni molar ratio of 0.10 and above), due to high oxygen affinity or the presence of more Ni species in oxidized form. In addition, α-WC (tungsten carbide) was identified using XRD to be formed on the surface of the moderate-amount W-modified Ni catalysts after POM, and it could inhibit or eliminate carbon deposition on the Ni-based catalyst surfaces. The catalytic performance evaluation of the catalysts in POM under a long time period confirmed that α-WC is stable.
The rapid development of electronic products has increased the demand for safe, low-cost, and high-performance energy storage devices. Lithium-ion batteries have been commercialized owing to their high energy density. However, the limited lithium resources and their uneven distribution have triggered the search for alternative energy storage systems. In this context, rechargeable aqueous zinc-ion batteries have gained immense attention owing to their low cost and environmental friendliness. Nevertheless, it is highly challenging to develop zinc-ion battery cathode materials with both high capacity and long cycle life. Hence, in this study, we prepared three-dimensional porous activated carbon (3DAC) with high specific surface area by using ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) tetrasodium salt hydrate as the raw material. We developed a zinc-ion hybrid capacitor (ZIHC) in 1 mol∙L−1 ZnSO4 using 3DAC as the cathode and a zinc foil as the anode. The ZIHC stored charge by the reversible deposition/dissolution of Zn2+ on the zinc anode and rapid reversible adsorption/desorption of ions on the 3DAC cathode. Owing to the large specific surface area and highly porous structure of the 3DAC cathode, the assembled ZIHC exhibited excellent electrochemical performance. It worked well over the voltage range of 0.1–1.7 V, providing a high specific capacitance of 213 mAh·g−1 at the current density of 0.5 A·g−1 (the highest value reported till date). The ZIHC showed specific capacities of 182, 160, 139, 130, 127, 122, and 116 mAh·g−1 at the current densities of 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 20 A·g−1, respectively. Meanwhile, it exhibited the highest energy density of 164 Wh·kg−1 (at a power density of 390 W·kg−1) and still delivered the highest power density of 9.3 kW·kg−1 with a high energy density of 74 Wh·kg−1. In addition, our ZIHC also exhibited excellent cycling stability. After 20000 cycles at 10 A·g−1, it retained 90% of its initial capacity and exhibited high Coulombic efficiency (≈100%). In order to investigate the causes of capacity decay, we examined the cycled zinc foil by scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction. The results showed that a large number of Zn4SO4(OH)6⋅3H2O disordered dendrites were formed on the surface of the zinc foil. These dendrites inhibited the reversible deposition/dissolution of zinc ions, resulting in the capacity decay of the ZIHC during the cycling process. This study will be helpful for developing next-generation high-performance energy storage devices.
The research in two-dimensional (2D) materials, such as graphene, transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) and black phosphorus, has been further flourished with the recent emergence of heterostructures composed of dissimilar 2D materials. The interfacing/coupling between different constituent components in a heterostructure has given rise to interesting phenomena and useful properties. For example, depending on the type of 2D materials, the distance and the kind of bonding between them, as well as the crystalline property of the hetero-interface, the interface may provide charge traps, exciton recombination centers, or bridges for effective charge/energy transfer. It has also been found that the spatial arrangement in addition to the composition of the constituents is an important factor influencing the overall properties of the heterostructures. Although many methods, such as dry transfer and vapor-phased growth are able to yield heterostructures from pristine or highly crystalline 2D crystals with spatial control, such as vertical heterostructures and lateral heterostructures, these methods are generally not scalable, which has restricted the use of the obtained heterostructures mostly to fundamental studies. The solution-phased synthesis methods, such as solvothermal/hydrothermal synthesis, electrochemical deposition and hot-injection method, may be more suitable for mass production of functional heterostructures despite the relatively low product quality. In the past couple of years, a diverse kinds of hetero/hybrid structures of 2D materials have been prepared successfully in wet-chemical processes. However, precise control over the geometric arrangement of the constituent components has been challenging in solution. Currently, four types of heterostructures including 2D crystals grown on a larger 2D template, vertical heterostructures, lateral heterostructures, and core-shell heterostructures have been prepared in solution. For the first type, flexible 2D nanosheets such as graphene and monolayer TMDs are used as synthesis templates to support the nucleation and growth of other 2D crystals. For vertical heterostructures, relatively rigid nanoplates are used to allow continuous deposition of 2D layers of other materials to form sandwich-like structures. The formation of lateral heterostructures requires edge growth on existing 2D materials without basal deposition, and therefore other methods such as cation exchange can be used as alternative routes. The preparation of core-shell 2D heterostructures generally involves both epitaxial edge growth and basal deposition and has been realized in both metallic and semiconductor structures. In this review, these kinds of heterostructures based on 2D materials will be discussed in terms of their synthesis methods, properties and possible applications. In addition, we will discuss the challenges and possible opportunities in this research direction.
The activation of methane (CH4) is a key step in its conversion to more valuable products. The activation mechanisms of CH4 on catalyst surfaces have been widely studied using gas-phase cluster models, which can be operated on systems with a precise number of atoms and determined structures. Herein, we have used MV3Oyq (M = Au/Ag, y = 6–8, q = 0 or ±1) clusters, in which a single Au or Ag atom was supported on vanadium oxide clusters, as simple models to mimic the properties of newly developed single-atom catalysts. The adsorption and activation of CH4 on these MV3Oyq clusters were systematically studied via density functional theory calculations at the B3LYP/Def2-TZVP level, which provided insights into the geometric structures, adsorption energies, and charge distributions of the adsorption systems. Five Au-containing clusters, AuV3O6, AuV3O7, AuV3O8, AuV3O6+, and AuV3O7+, were able to activate CH4, while other clusters, including all Ag-containing clusters, were inert. In the active clusters, all Au atoms were adsorbed on the O-atom sites of the supporting V3Oyq cluster and served as the active sites for CH4 activation. The activation of CH4 was characterized by the lengthened C―H bond (approximately 115 pm), short distances between CH4 and Au (approximately 184 pm), relatively high adsorption energies of CH4 (~0.590–1.145 eV), and significant electron transfer from CH4 to the clusters (above 0.08e). In particular, AuV3O8, which is a neutral cluster with a close-shell electronic state, can activate CH4 with a C―H bond length of 115 pm, Au―H bond length of 183 pm, the adsorption energy of CH4 of 0.853 eV, and the charge on CH4 of +0.088e. The charge state of the cluster has a significant effect on the activation ability: cationic clusters are the most active, followed by neutral clusters, while anionic clusters have the lowest activities toward CH4. Consistently, the local charge on the M atom has a positive correction with the activation ability of MV3Oyq clusters with a certain M. However, as compared to Au-containing clusters, Ag-containing clusters have lower activities despite the higher local charges on Ag in each MV3Oyq cluster. The results indicate that the inclusion of D3 dispersion correction has a small effect on structures and energies. This study may serve as a foundation for further research on the activation of CH4 on single-atom catalysts and provides useful information on rational designing of single-atom catalysts for CH4 conversion at low temperatures.
The sol-gel method, developed for over 150 years, is a conventional route for designing and preparing various kinds of metal oxide materials. In the sol-gel method, different chemical agents are homogenously mixed together in aqueous or organic solutions. During the evaporation of the solvents, the solution transforms to sol and gel through polycondensation or polyesterification reaction, and the dried gel is obtained after the complete evaporation of the solvent. Then, the dried precursor is often heat-treated in air at high temperature to induce the formation of oxide materials, especially the multi-component oxide materials that are difficult to prepare using other methods. Recently, new developments have been achieved in the sol-gel method. The application of the sol-gel method has been extended to the preparation of metallic nanomaterials, especially the alloy nanocrystals. For instance, the sol-gel method can be used to prepare CoPt and FePt hard magnetic alloy nanocrystals; CoCrCuNiAl high-entropy alloy nanocrystals; Ni3Fe and Cu3Pt alloy nanocrystals with equilibrium-ordered crystalline phases; and Ni, Cu, Bi, Sb, Te, Ag, Pt, and Pd monometallic nanocrystals. This article reviews the recent progresses in the sol-gel method for designing and preparing metallic and alloy nanocrystals, as well as the detailed experimental procedures and the different metallic nanocrystals that can be obtained by the sol-gel method. The crystalline phase formed in the final calcined products can be determined from the thermodynamic calculations of the sol-gel method. The thermodynamic model involves the calculation of the Gibbs free energy change of the reaction between the metallic oxide and reducing gases, such as hydrogen. A negative change and a positive change in the Gibbs free energy of the reaction correspond to the formation of metallic and alloy crystalline phases, or oxide crystalline phase, respectively. Based on the thermodynamic calculations and the relationship between the Gibbs free energy and standard electrodynamic potential of the chemical reaction, a new parameter, metal oxide standard electrode potential, was proposed. This electrode potential is different from the conventional standard metal electrode potential. A metallic crystalline phase is obtained if the electrode potential of the corresponding metal oxide is positive, while a metal oxide crystalline phase is obtained if the electrode potential of the metal oxide is negative. We also discuss the possible applications, including the magnetic and electrocatalytic applications, of the metallic and alloy nanocrystals that have been obtained by the sol-gel method. Finally, the future prospects of the application of the sol-gel method in designing metallic and alloy nanocrystals are discussed.
Room temperature ionic liquids (ILs) that can exhibit a colorimetric response to moisture in the air are rarely reported in the literature. In this study, an azophenolic IL solution exhibited a spontaneous a colorimetric response, driven by the formation of hydrogen bonding between the [PhN＝NPhO] anion and moisture in the air. This phenomenon was clearly understood using ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) absorption spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra, experimental data, and theoretical calculations. Specifically, in the UV-Vis absorption spectra, absorption around 455 nm decreased, while the band around 343 nm increased in the IL CHCl3 solution as time progressed; this was accompanied by a color change from orange to faint yellow. This spontaneous, self-responsive process was further observed using 1H NMR data. When the IL solution was placed with sufficient time, all the 1H NMR peaks of the azophenolic anion shifted downfield, but no new signals appeared in the upfield region. The reason for this was easily identified as the stimuli in the air, such as CO2 and moisture. When pure CO2 was bubbled through the IL CHCl3 solution, the solution color changed from its original orange to light orange, but could not change further to faint yellow, which ruled out CO2 gas as a stimulus. When a small amount of water was gradually added to the IL solution (MeCN solvent), the absorption band around 474 nm decreased, coupled with an increase in the absorption band around 347 nm. This was accompanied by a color change from orange to faint yellow, which was almost identical to the self-responsive process in CHCl3 and CCl4. Moreover, two cuvettes of IL CHCl3 solution were placed under relative humidities of 28% and 100%, respectively; the IL CHCl3 solution required a much longer time to exhibit a complete color change from orange to faint yellow under a lower relative humidity, demonstrating that moisture is the most likely stimulus triggering the self-responsive color change of the IL solution. As revealed by the Gaussian 09 program at the B3LYP/6-31++G(p, d) level, the distance between the oxygen atom on the azophenolic anion and the hydrogen atom on the H2O molecule was 0.174 nm, and the corresponding angle was 171.12°. Furthermore, the atomic dipole moment corrected Hirshfeld (ADCH) charge of the oxygen atom on the azophenolic anion was −0.52, and it increased to −0.62 after the azophenolic anion interacted with the H2O. Reduced density gradient analysis revealed that the spike corresponding to O∙∙∙H―O for the IL-H2O complex was located at around −0.04 a.u.. All the above data indicate that the presence of hydrogen bonding rendered the IL solution responsive to the moisture stimulus, and this response was accompanied by a color change that was visible to the naked eye. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a colorimetric change in an IL solution in response to moisture. We hope this work can help us to gain insight into some seemingly abnormal phenomena that occur during the research process.
Organic field effect transistors (OFETs) have great potential in flexible sensor and display driver applications. However, there are immense challenges in the development of large-area and high-quality thin-film fabrications. In this article, we introduce a method to fabricate patterned organic semiconductor films by oxygen plasma treatment and the synergy of Marangoni and coffee-ring effects. The procedure is as follows: First, we spin-coated the cyclic transparent amorphous fluoropolymers (CYTOP) on the substrate in the form of a hydrophobic layer. Then, parts of the substrate surface were treated with plasma and modified to make them hydrophilic. By comparing the water contact angle on the plasma treated surface with that on the untreated surface, we optimized the treating time to get a relatively uniform water contact angle on a different region of the substrate surface. The plasma treated substrate was dipped into 2, 7-dioctylbenzothieno[3, 2-b]benzothiophene (C8-BTBT) solution with methylbenzene and carbon tetrachloride as a mixed solvent, and then lifted from it. So the mixed solution flowed down rapidly on the hydrophobic portion of the surface, leaving droplet on the hydrophilic portion. Subsequently, the droplet started evaporating under the synergy of Marangoni and coffee-ring effects. Based on the difference between the hydrophilic and hydrophobic portions on the substrate surface, we successfully obtained the patterned C8-BTBT thin films on the substrate. Furthermore, the solvent ratio was optimized while growing the C8-BTBT film to adjust the boiling point of the solution, which was due to a fully covered surface was obtained. From the grazing-incidence X-ray diffraction (GIXRD) measurement of the films with three different concentrations, we observed that increasing in the concentration of the solution yielded different molecular orientations. Based on the three films, OFETs with bottom gate and top contact structure were fabricated. Moreover, the mobility and the on/off current ratio became more uniform with the progressive increase in the concentration of the solution. This may be attributed to the increase in the number of different molecular orientations and charge transfer channels. Although the increase in the number of different molecular orientations might lead to the decrease in mobility, it could improve the alignment of the electric field and also increase π–π stacking direction of the molecules, which promote highly uniform device performance distribution. Since uniform distribution of device performance is significant for practical applications, we believe the transistors that are fabricated at the highest concentration are better than those generated at lower concentrations. Thus, on the 5 cm × 5 cm substrate, it is observed that the average mobility of the transistors is 7.9 cm2·V-1·s-1, and all the devices have threshold voltages less than -2 V with the on/off current ratio of 104. This work is significant for the fabrication of large-area and high-performance thin films and transistors.
Polymers are widely used advanced materials composed of macromolecular chains, which can be found in materials used in our daily life. Polymer materials have been employed in many energy and electronic applications such as energy harvesting devices, energy storage devices, light emitting and sensing devices, and flexible energy and electronic devices. The microscopic morphologies and electrical properties of the polymer materials can be tuned by molecular engineering, which could improve the device performances in terms of both the energy conversion efficiency and stability. Traditional polymers are usually considered to be thermal insulators owing to their amorphous molecular chains. Graphene-based polymeric materials have garnered significant attention due to the excellent thermal conductivity of graphene. Advanced polymeric composites with high thermal conductivity exhibit great potential in many applications. Therefore, research on the thermal transport behaviors in graphene-based nanocomposites becomes critical. Vacancy defects in graphene are commonly observed during its fabrication. In this work, the effects of vacancy defects in graphene on thermal transport properties of the graphene-polyethylene nanocomposite are comprehensively investigated using molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. Based on the non-equilibrium molecular dynamics (NEMD) method, the interfacial thermal conductance and the overall thermal conductance of the nanocomposite are taken into consideration simultaneously. It is found that vacancy defects in graphene facilitate the interfacial thermal conductance between graphene and polyethylene. By removing various proportions of carbon atoms in pristine graphene, the density of vacancy defects varies from 0% to 20% and the interfacial thermal conductance increases from 75.6 MW·m−2·K−1 to 85.9 MW·m−2·K−1. The distinct enhancement in the interfacial thermal transport is attributed to the enhanced thermal coupling between graphene and polyethylene. A higher number of broken sp2 bonds in the defective graphene lead to a decrease in the structure rigidity with more low-frequency (< 15 THz) phonons. The improved overlap of vibrational density states between graphene and polyethylene at a low frequency results in better interfacial thermal conductance. Moreover, the increase in the interfacial thermal conductance induced by vacancy defects have a significant effect on the overall thermal conductance (from 40.8 MW·m−2·K−1 to 45.6 MW·m−2·K−1). In addition, when filled with the graphene layer, the local density of polyethylene increases on both sides of the graphene. The concentrated layers provide more aligned molecular arrangement, which result in better thermal conductance in polyethylene. Further, the higher local density of the polymer near the interface provides more atoms for interaction with the graphene, which leads to stronger effective interactions. The relative concentration is insensitive to the density of vacancy defects. The reported results on the thermal transport behavior of graphene-polyethylene composites provide reasonable guidance for using graphene as fillers to tune the thermal conduction of polymeric composites.
Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions are the main divalent cations in living cells and play vital roles in the structure and function of biological membranes. To date, the differences in the effects of these two ions on the Escherichia coli (E. coli) inner membrane at various concentrations remain unknown. Here, the effects of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions on a mixed lipid bilayer composed of 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (POPE) and 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoglycerol (POPG) in a 3 : 1 ratio (mol/mol), which mimics the E. coli inner membrane, were quantitatively differentiated at different concentrations by dynamic light scattering (DLS), zeta potential measurements and all-atom molecular dynamics (AA-MD) simulations. The DLS results demonstrated that the POPE/POPG liposomes were homogeneous and monodisperse in solutions with Ca2+ or Mg2+ ion concentrations of 0 and 1 mmol∙L-1. As the Ca2+ or Mg2+ ion concentration was increased to 5-100 mmol∙L-1, lipid aggregation or the fusion of unilamellar liposomes occurred in the ion solutions. The zeta potential measurements showed that both the Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions had overcharging effects on the negatively charged POPE/POPG liposomes. The AA-MD simulation results indicated that the Ca2+ ions irreversibly adsorbed on the membranes when the simulation time was longer than 100 ns, while the Mg2+ ions were observed to dynamically adsorb on and desorb from the membranes at various concentrations. These results are consistent with the DLS and zeta potential experiments. The average numbers of Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions in the first coordination shell of the oxygen atoms of the phosphate, carbonyl and hydroxyl groups of POPE and POPG (i.e., the first coordination numbers) in the pure membrane and membranes containing 5 and 100 mmol∙L-1 ions were calculated from the radial distribution functions. The results indicated that the primary binding site of these two ions on POPE and POPG at the concentrations studied was the negatively charged phosphate group. Thus, these results might explain the overcharging effects of both the Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions on the POPE/POPG liposomes. Moreover, as the Ca2+ concentration increased, the area per lipid of the lipid bilayers decreased, and the membrane thickness increased, while the Mg2+ ions had negligible effects on these membrane parameters. In addition, these ions had different effects on the orientation of the lipid head groups. These simulation results may be used to provide the possible explanations for the differences between Ca2+ and Mg2+ ions in DLS and zeta potential measurements at the atomic level. The experimental results and MD simulations provide insight into various biological processes regulated by divalent cations, such as membrane fusion.
Transition-metal-catalyzed C―H functionalization reactions, assisted by directing groups (DGs), have become some of the most powerful strategies to form C―C and C―X (X = O, N, S, etc.) bonds. It has brought about a revolution in the synthesis of drugs and natural products, and the method is widely applicable in the fields of material chemistry and pharmaceutical industry. This strategy has mainly focused on regioselective C―H functionalization of amides, esters, carbamates, and enamides with DGs to form C―C and C―X bonds. Since these DGs are relatively stable, they must be removed by other methods when the reaction is completed. Therefore, the use of a traceless DG is one of the important challenges for transition-metal-catalyzed C―H functionalization. Recently, N-phenoxyamide has been attracting significant research attention as a versatile DG. Oxyacetamide (O―NHAc) is one of the most versatile functionalities for directed C―H functionalization cascades, such as the internal oxidation with N―O bond cleavage. The O―NHAc has been reported as a superb DG for redox-neutral C―H activation/annulation cascade reactions to synthesize phenol and complex heterocyclic scaffolds by coupling with alkynes, alkenes, heteroarenes, and diazo compounds. However, for the external oxidation with preservation of the N―O bond, e.g. when a stoichiometric external oxidant is present, N-phenoxyamides could react with aldehydes or α, β-unsaturated aldehydes. In addition, the solvent can control the chemoselectivity. In this minireview, the C―H bond functionalization of N-phenoxyamide is divided into five categories according to the different substrates, viz. alkenes, alkynes, diazo, and other compounds and intramolecular C―H bond activation reactions. Based on experimental and theoretical research results, the reaction mechanism was discussed. In the first part, we summarize the ortho-alkylation, alkenylation, and cyclization of N-phenoxyamide with olefins. In the second part, we present the Rh- and Ir-catalyzed C―H activation or cyclization of N-phenoxyamide with alkanes to synthesize phenol or benzofuran compounds. In the third part, we describe the synthesis of phenolic compounds functionalized by Rh-catalyzed diazo compounds by carbene intermediates and N-phenoxyamides. The forth part summarizes the C―H activation/annulation reaction using aldehydes, heterocyclic aromatic, and sulfur reagents as substrates. The last part of the paper generalizes the intramolecular ortho-hydroxylation and ortho, para-amidation reactions.
Two-dimensional transition metal disulfides (TMDs) have recently attracted significant research attention due to their rich physical and chemical properties. Graphene has also been studied intensively due to its high electron mobility of ~200000 cm2·V−1·s−1. Since there is no band gap, it is difficult for a graphene-based device to achieve high current on/off ratio. For TMDs, such as MoS2, MoSe2, WSe2, and WS2, the band gaps of these materials can be adjusted according to the number of layers. Since TMD has the advantage of suppressing source-drain tunneling current in an ultra-short transistor and offering superior immunity to short-channel effects, it is also attractive for use as a channel material in Si complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) devices larger than 22 nm. Among them, MoS2 in single-layer and multi-layer films have been intensively researched for many years. MoS2-based field effect transistors (FETs) with excellent electrical properties have been reported. WS2 has lower in-plane electronic mass than MoS2, MoSe2, and MoTe2, and therefore has potential for higher carrier mobility or higher output current for WS2-based FETs. Experimental research on WS2 is limited compared to MoS2, and more work is needed to further exploit the full potential of WS2-based FETs. Therefore, the electron-phonon interaction and vibration properties of WS2 used in nano-electronic applications and FETs must be investigated. To this end, mono-layer (1L), few-layer (FL), and bulk WS2 films were prepared using mechanical exfoliation from a WS2 crystal. 3M scotch-tape was used for transferring the WS2 films. Detailed temperature-dependent Raman study on 1L, FL, and bulk WS2 films has been conducted using a 514-nm excitation laser. Raman spectroscopy, as an effective and non-destructive approach for phonon vibration study, has been used to evaluate TMDs. The Raman spectra reveal much useful information on the test sample in terms of peak position and spectral shape change. With the film thickness increasing to bulk, the A1g(Γ) and E2g1(Γ) modes show blue-shift and red-shift, respectively, with respect to 1L WS2. Moreover, when the dominant Raman vibration modes swaps between E2g1(Γ) and A1g(Γ), the "cross-over" temperature was identified for 1L, FL, and bulk WS2 films. WS2 shows smaller frequency change Δ between the E2g1(Γ) and A1g(Γ) modes than MoS2, with varying film thickness. The temperature coefficient of the Raman peak position was one magnitude lower for WS2 than MoS2, implying that WS2 has better thermal stability than MoS2. The results of this systematic study provide a physical guidance for WS2-based device design.
The rapid economic development has necessitated increased environmental protection and tremendous efforts have been devoted to designing and preparing environmentally friendly energy storage and conversion devices, including batteries, supercapacitors (SCs), and solar cells. As useful energy storage and conversion devices, SCs have received significant attention due to their high power density, long cycle stability, and rapid charging rate. The performance of SCs largely depends on the electrode materials, which can be composed of metal oxides, conducting polymers, carbon materials, and their composites. Carbon materials, including carbon nanotubes, carbon fibers, porous carbons, template carbons, and graphene-like carbon nanosheets (GCNSs), have attracted significant attention owing to their tailorable pore size and excellent physiochemical stability. GCNSs are considered to be outstanding carbon materials for use in high-performance SC because of their large specific surface area and high electrical conductivity. To date, many carbon precursors have been used to synthesize GCNSs for SCs such as coal, biomass, and chemical by-products. In particular, cheap and abundant chemical by-products for the synthesis of carbon materials can reduce preparation costs and environmental pollution as well as achieve high value-added chemicals. Coal tar, a by-product of the coal coking process, is rich in aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbon molecules, which can be polymerized, carbonized, and activated to synthesize GCNSs for SCs. In addition, MgO particles can be used as templates due to their stable properties and low-cost compared with other metal oxide templates (e.g. Fe2O3, NiO, or CuO), imparting space confinement and structure guidance during the preparation of GCNSs. Herein, we report a facile method for the preparation of interconnected graphene-like nanosheets (IGNSs) from coal tar by MgO templating combined with in-situ KOH activation. The IGNSs were obtained after the impurity removal by repeated washing with dilute acid. The as-synthesized IGNSs feature high specific surface area of up to 2887 m2∙g−1 and abundant hierarchical short pores, which provide abundant active sites for ion adsorption, supply plentiful channels for fast ion transport and boost electrical conductivity. As electrodes for SCs, IGNSs manifest high specific capacitance value of up to 313 F∙g−1 at 0.05 A∙g−1, good rate capability of 261 F∙g−1 at 20 A∙g−1, and excellent cycle stability with 92.7% of initial capacitance retained after 10000 cycles in 6 mol∙L−1 KOH aqueous electrolyte. This study provides a facile method for large-scale production of IGNSs from aromatic hydrocarbon molecules for use in high-performance energy storage devices.
The photocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction (PHER) has gained much attention as a promising strategy for the generation of clean energy. As opposed to conventional hydrogen evolution strategies (steam methane reforming, electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution, etc.), the PHER is an environmentally friendly and sustainable method for converting solar energy into H2 energy. However, the PHER remains unsuitable for industrial applications because of efficiency losses in three critical steps: light absorption, carrier separation, and surface reaction. In the past four decades, the processes responsible for these efficiency losses have been extensively studied. First, light absorption is the principal factor deciding the performance of most photocatalysts, and it is closely related to band-gap structure of photocatalysts. However, most of the existing photocatalysts have a wide bandgap, indicating a narrow light absorption range, which restricts the photocatalytic efficiency. Therefore, searching for novel semiconductors with a narrow bandgap and broadening the light absorption range of known photocatalysts is an important research direction. Second, only the photogenerated electrons and holes that migrate to the photocatalyst surface can participate in the reaction with H2O, whereas most of the photogenerated electrons and holes readily recombine with one another in the bulk phase of the photocatalysts. Hence, tremendous effort has been undertaken to shorten the charge transfer distance and enhance the electric conductivity of photocatalysts for improving the separation and transfer efficiency of photogenerated carriers. Third, the surface redox reaction is also an important process. Because water oxidation is a four-electron process, sluggish O2 evolution is the bottleneck in photocatalytic water splitting. The unreacted holes can easily recombine with electrons. Sacrificial agents are widely used in most catalytic systems to suppress charge carrier recombination by scavenging the photogenerated holes. Moreover, the low H2 evolution efficiency of most photocatalysts has encouraged researchers to introduce highly active sites on the photocatalyst surface. Based on the abovementioned three steps, multifarious strategies have been applied to modulate the physicochemical properties of semiconductor photocatalysts with the aim of improving the light absorption efficiency, suppressing carrier recombination, and accelerating the kinetics of surface reactions. The strategies include defect generation, localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR), element doping, heterojunction fabrication, and cocatalyst loading. An in-depth study of these strategies provides guidance for the design of efficient photocatalysts. In this review, we focus on the mechanism and application of these strategies for optimizing light absorption, carrier separation and transport, and surface reactions. Furthermore, we provide a critical view on the promising trends toward the construction of advanced catalysts for H2 evolution.
Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are widely used in cellphones, laptops, and electric cars owing to their high energy density and long operational lifetime. However, their further deployment in large-scale energy storage systems is restricted by the uneven distribution of lithium resources (~0.0017% (mass fraction, w) in the Earth's crust). Therefore, alternative energy storage systems composed of abundant elements are of urgent need. Recently, sodium-ion batteries (SIBs) have attracted significant attention and are considered to be a potential alternative for next-generation batteries owing to abundant sodium resources (~2.64% (w) of the Earth's crust), suitable potential (−2.71 V), and low cost. SIBs are similar to LIBs in terms of their physical and electrochemical properties. Previous studies have mainly focused on SIB storage materials, including hard carbon, alloys, and hexacyanoferrate, while the safety of SIBs remains largely unexplored. Similar to LIBs, the current electrolytes used in SIBs are mainly composed of flammable organic carbonate solvents (or ether solvents), sodium salts, and functional additives, which pose possible safety issues. Moreover, the chemical activity of sodium is much higher than that of lithium, leading to a higher risk of fire, thermal runaway, and explosion. To overcome this problem, herein we propose a fluorinated non-flammable electrolyte composed of 0.9 mol∙L−1 NaPF6 (sodium hexafluorophosphate) in an intermixture of di-(2, 2, 2 trifluoroethyl) carbonate (TFEC) and fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC) in a 7 : 3 ratio by volume. Its physical and electrochemical properties were studied by ionic conductivity, direct ignition, cyclic voltammetry, and charge/discharge measurements, demonstrating excellent flame-retarding ability and outstanding compatibility with sodium electrodes. The electrochemical tests showed that the Prussian blue cathode retained a capacity of 84 mAh∙g−1 over 50 cycles in the prepared electrolyte, in contrast to the rapid capacity degradation in a flammable conventional carbonate electrolyte (74 mAh∙g−1 with 57% capacity retention after 50 cycles). To test the practical application of the proposed electrolyte, a hard carbon anode was used and exhibited exceptional performance in this system. The enhancement mechanism was further verified by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and scanning emission microscopy (SEM) investigations. Polycarbonate on the surface of the cathode played an important role for the studied electrolyte system. The polycarbonate may originate from FEC decomposition, which can enhance the ionic conductivity of the solid electrolyte interface (SEI) layer and reduce impedance. Hence, we believe that this proposed electrolyte may provide new opportunities for the design of robust and safe SIBs for next-generation applications.
Multilayer phosphorescent organic lighting-emitting diodes (PHOLEDs) with complicated device configurations have greatly increased the complexity of manufacturing and the fabrication cost. Therefore, there is strong incentive to develop simplified OLEDs, such as a single-layer device that has the structure of anode/hole injection layer (HIL)/emissive layer/electron injection layer/cathode. However, because of the absence of a carrier transport layer, the single-layer device suffers from severe charge injection difficulties and unbalanced carrier transport. Hence, the performances of single-layer devices reported so far have not been satisfactory. It has been proved that the modification of the electrode/organic interface could influence carrier injection to improve the device performance in multilayer PHOLEDs. Modification of the electrode/organic interface is more essential for achieving high-performance single-layer OLEDs. In this work, efficient green phosphorescent single-layer OLEDs based on the structure of indium tin oxide (ITO)/C60 (1.2 nm):MoO3 (0.4 nm)/1, 3, 5-tris(1-phenyl-1H-benzimidazol-2-yl)benzene (TPBi):fac-tris(2-phenylpyridine)iridium [Ir(ppy)3]/LiF (0.7 nm)/Al (120 nm) were fabricated. C60, MoO3, and C60:MoO3 were applied as the HILs, respectively, for comparison. The layer of TPBi played a dual role of host and electron-transporting material within the emission layer. Thus, the properties of the HILs play an important role in the adjustment of electron/hole injection to attain transport balance of the charge carriers in single-layer OLEDs with electron-transporting hosts. It is found that appropriate adjustment of the HIL is a key factor to achieve high-efficiency single-layer OLEDs. The large affinity of MoO3 (6.37 eV), inducing electron transfer from the highest occupied molecular orbital of C60 to MoO3, results in the formation of C60 cations and induces the decrease of the valence from Mo+6 to Mo+5; therefore, C60:MoO3 can adjust the hole injection properties well. Finally, a single-layer OLED with a maximum current efficiency of 35.88 cd∙A−1 was achieved. Compared with devices with MoO3 (28.99 cd∙A−1) or C60 (10.46 cd∙A−1) as HILs, the device performance was improved by 24% and 243%, respectively. Overall, a novel and effective method of using different mixed ratios of C60 and MoO3 as the HIL to realize effective charge carrier regulation is proposed, and it is of great significance for fabricating high-performance single-layer OLEDs.
Organic solar cells (OSCs) are a promising next-generation photovoltaic technology that can be used to harvest clean and renewable solar energy. OSCs are typically composed of donor:acceptor blends as photo-active materials. Compared to the conventional inorganic silicon solar cells, OSCs are suitable for large-scale production using roll-to-roll technology, promising low-cost and the potential to avoid environmental pollution. The last few years have witnessed the rapid development of OSCs. The power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of OSCs have surpassed ~14%–16%, benefiting from the design of novel materials, optimization of blend morphology, and deep understanding of the charge generation mechanism. Currently, the most widely used processing solvents for preparing high-efficient OSCs are chlorinated or aromatic solvents including chlorobenzene, dichlorobenzene, and chloroform, which are highly detrimental to the environment and human health, and may not be utilized for future in industry. Thus, replacing these highly toxic solvents with environmentally friendly alternatives called "green solvents" is an important topic in OSC research. Herein, poly[(2, 6-(4, 8-bis(5-(2-ethylhexyl)thiophen-2-yl)benzo[1, 2-b:4, 5-b′]dithiophene)-co-(1, 3-di(5-thiophene-2-yl)-5, 7-bis(2-ethylhexyl)benzo[1, 2-c:4, 5-c′]dithiophene-4, 8-dione)] (PBDB-T) was used as a reference material to design and synthesize a novel conjugated polymer (PBDB-DT) by extending the alkyl side chains and enlarging the conjugated side groups. The thermal stability of the polymer donor was examined via thermogravimetric analysis, showing that the polymers exhibit very good stability at > 400 ℃. Importantly, PBDB-DT exhibits good solubility in low-toxic solvent tetrahydrofuran (THF) due to its longer alkyl side chains, and shows a strong aggregation effect in THF due to the larger conjugated side groups. A favorable PCE of 10.2% was achieved for the THF-processed PBDB-DT:IT-M based OSC device. In contrast, PBDB-T has limited solubility in THF. The solar cell device based on PBDB-T:IT-M delivered a moderate PCE of 6.41%. The investigation of blend morphology via atomic force microscope suggested that the PBDB-DT:IT-M has a smooth surface, which is favorable for charge generation and transport. These results demonstrate that molecular optimization is a promising strategy to modulate the solubility and achieve high efficiency for organic photovoltaic materials processed using green solvents.
Thermal analysis (TA) is a technology that can be applied to evaluate the relationship between the physical properties of substances and temperature changes under programmed temperature control. It has been widely used in many fields and is particularly useful for determining the thermal stability and service life of polymers and other materials, the stability of drugs, and the danger of flammable and explosive materials. Simultaneously, the mechanism of dehydration, decomposition, and degradation of inorganic materials or dissociation of complexes can be studied and the decomposition rates of environmental pollutants can be estimated. Recently, TA kinetics has become the most extensively studied topic in TA research. The main purpose of kinetic analysis is to obtain the three kinetic triplets of a reaction process, namely, activation energy Ea, pre-exponential factors A, and and mechanism function f(a). For a solid-state reaction, many mathematical models and corresponding data processing methods can be used for the study of TA kinetics. These methods can be classified as either isothermal or non-isothermal methods and further divided into integral and differential methods in the form of the kinetic equation. These equations can be divided into a single scanning rate and multiple scanning rate methods (isoconversion method) by the operation method. The isoconversion method can calculate activation energies without the mechanism function, and the complexity of the reaction can be determined by the change in activation energy as a function of conversion rate. Therefore, the International Confederation for Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry (ICTAC) recommends the isoconversion method for processing TA data. Because of the limitation of traditional isoconversion methods, novel isoconversion methods have been proposed over the past 10 years. The relationship among the existing dynamic analysis methods must be complementary, instead of competitive, because the reliability of the analysis results can be improved only through complementarity. Further efforts to popularize modern integral and differential methods with equal conversion rates are essential. Herein, the progress in isoconversion method development is briefly introduced. A novel kinetic equation and seven new isoconversion methods are reviewed, and the characteristics and limitations of these methods are discussed. In addition, the development trends and prospects of TA kinetics research methods are highlighted. We suggest that the Arrhenius formula should be modified on the basis of the relationship between the rate constant and temperature. The rate equation that is more suitable for non-isothermal and heterogeneous reactions should be used. The mechanism of multi-step solid-state reactions should be studied in depth, and unified standards must be adopted for the study of thermal decomposition kinetics. This represents imminent and important progress in the study of TA kinetics.
In this study, a novel silicon carbide/platinum/cadmium sulfide (SiC/Pt/CdS) Z-scheme heterojunction nanorod is constructed using a simple chemical reduction-assisted hydrothermal method, in which Pt nanoparticles are anchored at the interface of SiC nanorods and CdS nanoparticles to induce an electron-hole pair transfer along the Z-scheme transport path. Multiple characterization techniques are used to analyze the structure, morphology, and properties of these materials. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) results show that the SiC/Pt/CdS materials with good crystal structure are successfully synthesized. Transmission electron microscopy reveals that Pt nanoparticles grow between the interfaces of SiC nanorods and CdS nanoparticles. UV-Vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy shows that the as-prepared Z-scheme heterojunction samples have a wider light absorption range in comparison with pristine CdS materials. Photoluminescence spectroscopy and the transient photocurrent response further demonstrate that the SiC/Pt/CdS nanorod sample with an optimal molar ratio possesses the highest electron-hole pair separation efficiency. The loading amount of CdS on the surface of SiC/Pt nanorods is effectively adjusted by controlling the molar ratio of SiC and CdS to achieve the optimal performance of the SiC/Pt/CdS nanorod photocatalysts. The optimal H2 evolution capacity is achieved at SiC : CdS = 5 : 1 (molar ratio) and the maximum H2 evolution rate reaches a high value of 122.3 µmol·h−1. In addition, scanning electron microscopy, XRD, and XPS analyses show that the morphology and crystal structure of the SiC/Pt/CdS photocatalyst remain unchanged after three cycles of activity testing, indicating that the SiC/Pt/CdS nanocomposite has a stable structure for H2 evolution under visible light. To prove the Z-scheme transfer mechanism of electron-hole pairs, selective photo-deposition technology is used to simultaneously carry out the photo-reduction deposition of Au nanoparticles and photo-oxidation deposition of Mn3O4 nanoparticles in the photoreaction. The experimental results indicate that during photocatalysis, the electrons in the conduction band of CdS participate mainly in the reduction reaction, and the holes in the valence band of SiC are more likely to undergo the oxidation reaction. The electrons in the conduction band of SiC combine with the holes in the valence band of CdS to form a Z-scheme transport path. Therefore, a possible Z-scheme charge migration path in SiC/Pt/CdS nanorods during photocatalytic H2 production is proposed to explain the enhancement in the activity. This study provides a new strategy for synthesizing a Z-scheme photocatalytic system based on SiC nanorods. Based on the characterization results, it is determined that SiC/Pt/CdS nanocomposites are highly efficient, inexpensive, easy to prepare, and are stable structures for H2 evolution under visible light with outstanding commercial application prospects.
Methane activation by transition metal species has been extensively investigated over the past few decades. It is observed that ground-state monocations of bare 3d transition metals are inert toward CH4 at room temperature because of unfavorable thermodynamics. In contrast, many mono-ligated 3d transition metal cations, such as MO+ (M = Mn, Fe, Co, Cu, Zn), MH+ (M = Fe, Co), and NiX+ (X = H, CH3, F), as well as several bis-ligated 3d transition metal cations including OCrO+, Ni(H)(OH)+, and Fe(O)(OH)+ activate the C―H bond of methane under thermal collision conditions because of the pronounced ligand effects. In most of the above-mentioned examples, the 3d metal atoms are observed to cooperate with the attached ligands to activate the C―H bond. Compared to the extensive studies on active species comprising of middle and late 3d transition metals, the knowledge about the reactivity of early 3d transition metal species toward methane and the related C―H activation mechanisms are still very limited. Only two early 3d transition metal species HMO+ (M = Ti and V) are discovered so far to activate the C―H bond of methane via participation of their metal atoms. In this study, by performing mass spectrometric experiments and density functional theory calculations, we have identified that the diatomic vanadium boride cation (VB+) can activate methane to produce a dihydrogen molecule and carbon-boron species under thermal collision conditions. The strong electrostatic interaction makes the reaction preferentially proceed the V side. To generate experimentally observed product ions, a two-state reactivity scenario involving spin conversion from high-spin sextet to low-spin quartet is necessary at the entrance of the reaction. This result is consistent with the reported reactions of 3d transition metal species with CH4, in which the C―H bond cleavage generally occurs in the low-spin states, even if the ground states of the related active species are in the high-spin states. For VB+ + CH4, the insertion of the synergetic V―B unit (rather than a single V or B atom) into the H3C―H bond causes the initial C―H bond activation driven by the strong bond strengths of V―CH3 and B―H. The mechanisms of methane activation by VB+ discussed in this study may provide useful guidance to the future studies on methane activation by early transition metal systems.
The broad existence of the biaryl linkage in bioactive organic molecules and functional materials makes it an attractive synthesis target via construction of aryl-aryl carbon bonds. Transition metal catalyzed cross-coupling reactions of two pre-functionalized aryl partners, e.g., Suzuki-Miyaura cross-coupling and Negishi cross-coupling reactions, are the main methods typically used for the construction of biaryl linkages. Since the end of the last century, transition metal catalyzed direct C―H arylation of unactivated arenes has emerged as a practical alternative to the well-established cross-coupling strategies. However, the use of transition metal catalysts and/or organometallic reagents would lead to problems, such as the disposal of waste from large-scale syntheses and the removal of heavy metal contaminants from pharmaceutical intermediates. In this regard, the base-promoted homolytic aromatic substitution (BHAS) reaction of aryl halides with unactivated arenes offers a simpler strategy for the synthesis of biaryl scaffolds, and avoids the use of transition metals. Although the BHAS reaction can proceed to a small extent without any additives, particularly at elevated temperatures, the addition of organic promoters would significantly accelerate the reaction rate and improve the overall efficiency of the process. Over the past ten years, a wide variety of N- and O-based organic promoters have been developed to promote the BHAS reaction in the presence of the tert-butoxide base. The mechanism of the BHAS reaction has been studied extensively, and is accepted as occurring via a radical chain process involving an aryl radical. However, the role and mode of initiation of most organic promoters studied remain controversial. The development of more and varied organic promoters will surely promote the mechanistic understanding and further development of the BHAS reaction. Herein, we report that 1, 1'-bis(diphenylphosphino)ferrocene (dppf, or DPPF) can act as a P-based promoter to facilitate the direct arylation of unactivated arenes with aryl iodides using potassium tert-butoxide as the base and electron donor. A broad range of aryl iodides and arenes reacted smoothly under the optimized reaction conditions, giving arylated products in good yields and with high regio-selectivity. Intramolecular C―H arylation also worked well following a sequence of single electron transfer (SET)/initiation, 5-exo-trig aryl radical addition, ring expansion, deprotonation, and re-aromatization/propagation. A mechanistic study indicated that the diphenylphosphino group of dppf played a vital role in the initiation step by enhancing the SET-inhibiting ability of the tert-butoxide anion. A primary kinetic isotope effect was observed in the parallel reactions between 4-methoxy-iodobenzene with benzene and deuterated benzene, implying that the deprotonation of the cyclohexadienyl radical intermediate by tert-butoxide was the rate-determining step in the radical chain pathway.
Lithium metal is the most promising anode material for Li (ion) batteries from the viewpoint of energy density because of its high theoretical specific capacity (3860 mAh∙g-1, 2061 mAh∙cm−3) and low reduction potential (−3.04 V vs standard hydrogen electrode (SHE)). Lithium has been used as an anode material for lithium metal batteries since the 1970s. However because of the serious reaction between Li and non-aqueous electrolytes, the large volume expansion during Li plating, and the formation of Li dendrites during cycling, Li batteries with Li metal anodes show very low Coulombic efficiency (CE) and are easily short-circuited. This limits the widespread commercialization of Li metal anodes for Li batteries. Motivated by our previous study on the development of a Li carbon nanotube (Li-CNT) composite anode material, in this study, we prepared a Si-loaded Li carbon nanotube composite (Li-CNT-Si) via a facile molten impregnation method. The introduction of Si nanoparticles increased the Li content of the composite, thus increasing its specific capacity (the specific capacity of the Li-CNT composite increased from 2000 mAh∙g-1 to 2600 mAh∙g-1 with the addition of 10% Si (mass fraction)). Moreover, Si nanoparticles decreased the polarization for Li plating/stripping, resulting in an improved electrochemical performance. The Li-CNT-Si composite showed the merits of the Li-CNT composite with the advantages of limited electrode volume expansion and negligible Li dendrite formation during cycling. Furthermore, the Si nanoparticles filled the pores inside the Li-CNT microspheres, thus preventing the electrolyte from flowing into the microspheres to corrode the Li metal present inside them. Hence, the incorporation of Si nanoparticles improved the CE of the composite anode. When the 10% Si-loaded Li-CNT-Si composite was used as an anode and coupled with a commercial LiFePO4 cathode, the resulting battery showed more than 900 stable cycles in an ether-based electrolyte at a charge/discharge rate of 1C (0.7 mA∙cm-2) corresponding to a CE of 96.7%, which is considerably higher than those of the Li-CNT (90.1%) and Li metal foil (79.3%) anodes obtained under the same conditions. We believe that the Li-CNT-Si composite prepared in this study is a promising anode material for Li secondary batteries having high energy density, particularly for those employing Li-free cathodes, e.g., Li-sulfur and Li-oxygen batteries.