Optically controlled supercapacitors: Functional active carbon electrodes with semiconductor particles

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Supercapacitors, S-C—capacitors that take advantage of the large capacitance at the interface between an electrode and an electrolyte—have found many short-term energy applications. The parallel plate cells were made of two transparent electrodes (ITO), each covered with a semiconductorembedded, active carbon (A-C) layer. While A-C appears black, it is not an ideal blackbody absorber that absorbs all spectral light indiscriminately. In addition to a relatively flat optical absorption background, A-C exhibits two distinct absorption bands: in the near-infrared (near-IR and in the blue. The first may be attributed to absorption by the OH group and the latter, by scattering, possibly through surface plasmons at the pore/electrolyte interface. Here, optical and thermal effects of sub-µm SiC particles that are embedded in A-C electrodes, are presented. Similar to nano-Si particles, SiC exhibits blue band absorption, but it is less likely to oxidize. Using Charge-Discharge (CD) experiments, the relative optically related capacitance increase may be as large as ~34% (68% when the illuminated area is taken into account). Capacitance increase was noted as the illuminated samples became hotter. This thermal effect amounts to <20% of the overall relative capacitance change using CD experiments. The thermal effect was quite large when the SiC particles were replaced by CdSe/ZnS quantum dots; for the latter, the thermal effect was 35% compared to 10% for the optical effect. When analyzing the optical effect one may consider two processes: ionization of the semiconductor particles and charge displacement under the cell’s terminals—a dipole effect. A model suggests that the capacitance increase is related to an optically induced dipole effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4183
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


  • Energy storage
  • Functionalized active carbon materials
  • Nano
  • Optical effects in supercapacitors
  • Thermal effects


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