Plasma-produced graphitic microparticles as electrode material in Li-ion batteries or supercapacitors

Please note: unless otherwise specified, the internships are only available for students with a nationality of an EU-member state and/or students from a Dutch university.

DIFFER (Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) is one of the NWO institutes and focuses on a multidisciplinary approach of the energy research combining physics, chemistry and materials engineering. The institute is an important part of the energy research strategy of NWO and FOM. The DIFFER mission is to carry out leading fundamental research in the field of fusion-energy and solar fuels, in close collaboration with academic institutions, research institutes and industry.

Plasma-produced graphitic microparticles as electrode material in Li-ion batteries or supercapacitors

The future demands for renewable energy, electric vehicles, portable electronics and other high-power/high energy density applications require energy storage devices. Electrochemical storage has a high potential to meet the criteria, but it requires improvements in the field of high-performance electrode materials. Among the potential electrochemical materials, carbon has several advantages such as relative low cost, good electrical conductivity, benign environmental impact, high availability, and easy to process. In particular, high electrochemical performance can be achieved from porous carbon electrode materials that exhibit not only a high surface area, but also a high wettability of the electrode with the electrolyte ions when operated in electrochemical cells.

One promising candidate is micro/macro structured graphene because of graphene’s unique properties: very high surface area (> 2630 m2g−1), good mechanical/chemical stability and high electrical/thermal conductivity. Recently, microparticles consisting of crumpled graphene oxide showed promising electrochemical performance. Their formation requires however a multi-step processing procedure, hindering the efficiency of production.

Surprisingly, similarly shaped microparticles can also quickly be synthesized by surface modifications caused by extreme plasma (graphite) wall interactions in fusion devices and linear plasma generators. This novel processing method may bring several advantages over other chemical and plasma synthesis paths such as: a simple one-step method, no necessary surface pretreatment or auxiliary gas injection, high growth rate (up to 0.2 μm/s) and no required additional binder material. The electrochemical performance of these microparticles is however unknown at the moment.

The research question is: ‘Can plasma produced graphitic microparticles be utilized as efficient electrode material for electrochemical applications?’

Group: Plasma Material Interactions, DIFFER

Student preference: Master thesis / internship student – chemistry or physics

People involved: D. Aussems (PhD student), Dr. I. Dogan

Responsibilities and tasks: 

The work would involve mostly experimental, inter-disciplinary work in close collaboration with a PhD student. Graphitic microparticles surfaces will be synthesized by in-house linear plasma generator Nano-PSI and/or Magnum-PSI. The particles will be integrated in a electrochemical test-cell (incl. particles) which will be designed in collaboration with the Solar Fuels department of DIFFER. The performance of the test-cell will be assessed by electrochemical measurements including cyclic voltammetry and galvanostatic cycling. The second stage of the project consists of performance optimization by for example incorporation of silicon nanoparticles or post-treatment methods.

Further information: 

Damien Aussems
call: +31 6 40183053
mail: d [368] aussems [28] differ [368] nl