Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Materials Science and Engineering

Advisor's Name

WonBong Choi

Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Advisor's Name

Arvind Agarwal

Advisor's Name

Norman D.H. Munroe

Advisor's Name

Joong-ho Moon

Keywords

Carbon nanotube, energy, field emission, lithium ion battery, interface engineering, emission characteristics, electrochemical properties

Date of Defense

9-20-2011

Abstract

In the current age of fast-depleting conventional energy sources, top priority is given to exploring non-conventional energy sources, designing highly efficient energy storage systems and converting existing machines/instruments/devices into energy-efficient ones. ‘Energy efficiency’ is one of the important challenges for today’s scientific and research community, worldwide.

In line with this demand, the current research was focused on developing two highly energy-efficient devices – field emitters and Li-ion batteries, using beneficial properties of carbon nanotubes (CNT). Interface-engineered, directly grown CNTs were used as cathode in field emitters, while similar structure was applied as anode in Li-ion batteries. Interface engineering was found to offer minimum resistance to electron flow and strong bonding with the substrate. Both field emitters and Li-ion battery anodes were benefitted from these advantages, demonstrating high energy efficiency. Field emitter, developed during this research, could be characterized by low turn-on field, high emission current, very high field enhancement factor and extremely good stability during long-run. Further, application of 3-dimensional design to these field emitters resulted in achieving one of the highest emission current densities reported so far. The 3-D field emitter registered 27 times increase in current density, as compared to their 2-D counterparts. These achievements were further followed by adding new functionalities, transparency and flexibility, to field emitters, keeping in view of current demand for flexible displays. A CNT-graphene hybrid structure showed appreciable emission, along with very good transparency and flexibility.

Li-ion battery anodes, prepared using the interface-engineered CNTs, have offered 140% increment in capacity, as compared to conventional graphite anodes. Further, it has shown very good rate capability and an exceptional ‘zero capacity degradation’ during long cycle operation. Enhanced safety and charge transfer mechanism of this novel anode structure could be explained from structural characterization. In an attempt to progress further, CNTs were coated with ultrathin alumina by atomic layer deposition technique. These alumina-coated CNT anodes offered much higher capacity and an exceptional rate capability, with very low capacity degradation in higher current densities. These highly energy efficient CNT based anodes are expected to enhance capacities of future Li-ion batteries.

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