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Open Access Nano Express

Vertically aligned ZnO nanorod core-polypyrrole conducting polymer sheath and nanotube arrays for electrochemical supercapacitor energy storage

Navjot Kaur Sidhu and Alok C Rastogi*

Author Affiliations

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP), Binghamton University, State University of New York, New York 13902, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:453  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-453

Published: 31 August 2014

Abstract

Nanocomposite electrodes having three-dimensional (3-D) nanoscale architecture comprising of vertically aligned ZnO nanorod array core-polypyrrole (PPy) conducting polymer sheath and the vertical PPy nanotube arrays have been investigated for supercapacitor energy storage. The electrodes in the ZnO nanorod core-PPy sheath structure are formed by preferential nucleation and deposition of PPy layer over hydrothermally synthesized vertical ZnO nanorod array by controlled pulsed current electropolymerization of pyrrole monomer under surfactant action. The vertical PPy nanotube arrays of different tube diameter are created by selective etching of the ZnO nanorod core in ammonia solution for different periods. Cyclic voltammetry studies show high areal-specific capacitance approximately 240 mF.cm-2 for open pore and approximately 180 mF.cm-2 for narrow 30-to-36-nm diameter PPy nanotube arrays attributed to intensive faradic processes arising from enhanced access of electrolyte ions through nanotube interior and exterior. Impedance spectroscopy studies show that capacitive response extends over larger frequency domain in electrodes with PPy nanotube structure. Simulation of Nyquist plots by electrical equivalent circuit modeling establishes that 3-D nanostructure is better represented by constant phase element which accounts for the inhomogeneous electrochemical redox processes. Charge-discharge studies at different current densities establish that kinetics of the redox process in PPy nanotube electrode is due to the limitation on electron transport rather than the diffusive process of electrolyte ions. The PPy nanotube electrodes show deep discharge capability with high coulomb efficiency and long-term charge-discharge cyclic studies show nondegrading performance of the specific areal capacitance tested for 5,000 cycles.

Keywords:
Zinc oxide nanorods; Polypyrrole nanotubes; 3-D nanostructures; Supercapacitor; Pulsed electrochemical polymerization; Electrochemical energy storage; Redox capacitance