Journal of Power Sources, Vol.207, 191-198, 2012
Redesigning air cathodes for metal-air batteries using MnOx-functionalized carbon nanofoam architectures
We have redesigned the air cathode for metal-air batteries by adapting fiber-paper-supported carbon nanofoams as the base electrode architecture. Electrocatalytic functionality for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is added into the conductive, ultraporous nanofoam paper by electroless deposition at the carbon walls of conformal nanoscopic coatings of birnessite-like manganese oxide (10-20-nm thick MnOx) via redox reaction with aqueous permanganate (MnO4-). We report the ORR activity measured using an air-breathing electroanalytical cell for a series of native and MnOx-functionalized carbon nanofoams in which the size of the pore network is varied from tens to hundreds of nanometers, the thickness of the air cathode is varied, and the degree of hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity of the electrode structure is altered. Technologically relevant ORR activity is obtained at 0.9 V vs. Zn for MnOx-functionalized carbon nanofoams that are >= 180-mu m thick, have pores on the order of 100-200 nm, and are modified with hydrophobic poly(vinylidene difluoride). (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.