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Vanadium Oxide Electrochemical Capacitors: An Investigation into Aqueous Capacitive Degradation, Alternate Electrolyte-Solvent Systems, Whole Cell Performance and Graphene Oxide Composite Electrodes


Vanadium oxide has emerged as a potential electrochemical capacitor material due to its attractive pseudocapacitive performance; however, it is known to suffer from capacitive degradation upon sustained cycling. In this work, the electrochemical cycling behavior of anodically electrodeposited vanadium oxide films with various surface treatments in aqueous solutions is investigated at different pH. Quantitative compositional analysis and morphological studies provide additional insight into the mechanism responsible for capacitive degradation. Furthermore, the capacitance and impedance behavior of vanadium oxide electrochemical capacitor electrodes is compared for both aqueous and nonaqueous electrolyte-solvent systems. Alkali metal chloride and bromide electrolytes were studied in aqueous systems, and nonaqueous systems containing alkali metal bromides were studied in polar aprotic propylene carbonate (PC) or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) solvents. The preferred aqueous and nonaqueous systems identified in the half-cell studies were utilized in symmetric vanadium oxide whole-cells. An aqueous system utilizing a 3.0 M NaCl electrolyte at pH 3.0 exhibited an excellent 96% capacitance retention over 3000 cycles at 10 mV s-1. An equivalent system tested at 500 mV s-1 displayed an increase in capacitance over the first several thousands of cycles, and eventually stabilized over 50,000 cycles. Electrodes cycled in nonaqueous 1.0 M LiBr in PC exhibited mostly non-capacitive charge-storage, and electrodes cycled in LiBr-DMSO exhibited a gradual capacitive decay over 10,000 cycles at 500 mV s-1. Morphological and compositional analyses, as well as electrochemical impedance modeling, provide additional insight into the cause of the cycing behavior. Lastly, reduced graphene oxide and vanadium oxide nanowire composites have been successfully synthesized using electrophoretic deposition for electrochemical capacitor electrodes. The composite material was found to perform with a higher capacitance than electrodes containing only vanadium oxide nanowires by a factor of 4.0 at 10 mV s-1 and 7.5 at 500 mV s-1. The thermally reduced composite material was examined in both symmetric and asymmetric whole cell electrochemical capacitor devices, and although the asymmetric cell achieved both higher energy and power density, the symmetric cell retained a higher capacitance over 50,000 cycles at 200 mV s-1.

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