Supercapacitors have emerged as next-generation high-performance power sources for portable devices used in a wide range of consumer, biomedical, healthcare, and military applications. It remains a fundamental challenge in supercapacitor design to simultaneously achieve high energy and power densities with a long cycle life. A porous graphene framework, consisting of a three-dimensional graphene structure containing nano-sized holes and micro-size pores, has emerged as a promising solution to address this challenge due to its superior electrochemical properties. However, the existing methods for fabricating this graphene framework often rely on thermal chemical etching processes, which suffer from low efficiency and poor controllability due to complex experiments and poor thermal stability of etchants. This award supports fundamental research to provide knowledge for the development of a novel manufacturing strategy using photon-material interactions to realize porous graphene framework fabrication with a high efficiency. This research will have significant broader impact because of the spillover into many economic sectors because of the potential transformative performance improvement of supercapacitors. This project also provides an integrated science and engineering training platform for graduate, undergraduate, and K-12 students, with particular emphasis on promoting participation of women and underrepresented students in research.
The goal of this project is to establish a novel photon-enabled atomic drilling process to fabricate porous graphene frameworks toward supercapacitor applications. The photon-enabled atomic drilling approach utilizes photons from a nanosecond pulsed laser to initiate atomic drilling of nanoholes in the graphene basal planes for porous graphene framework fabrication with high efficiency and controllability. The major research objective is to establish a fundamental understanding of mechanisms involved in the photon-enabled atomic drilling process responsible for the formation of porous graphene frameworks. A computational model capable of predicting photon-enabled bond excitation and dissociation as affected by the laser processing parameters will be developed. Microstructure characterization and electrochemical property testing will be conducted to establish the process-structure-property relationship. This research contributes to advances in photon-based manufacturing technology development.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.