Chinese Scientists Discover A New Route To Convert Biomass Into The Ideal Material For Lithium Battery Anodes

Carbon nanowire (CNTh) is a one-dimensional diamond material that has high tensile strength and flexural modulus. But above all, in a crystalline state, it has excellent electrochemical performance that makes it the ideal material for lithium battery anodes.

In 2015, scientists synthesized CNTh for the first time via pressure-induced benzene polymerization. Subsequently, from various aromatic molecules, a series of CNThs were synthesized. However, improving the intra- and inter-wire atomic order is a long-standing issue for CNTh to be commercially viable.

New research from a team of Chinese scientists, led by Drs. Kuo Li and Haiyan Zheng from the High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research Center (HPSTAR) in that country reported the first synthesis of CNThs from a biomass precursor, 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA).

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FDCA is one of the top 12 sugar value-added chemicals and is widely applied in the chemical industry. “Compared to benzene, it has fewer possible binding pathways, which will help improve the homogeneity of CNThs. In addition, its aligned π-π stacking and intermolecular hydrogen bonds in its structure are also critical to obtaining the crystalline diamond nanowire. Therefore, 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid is a better precursor material for CNTh,” said Dr. Kuo Li.

In this work, the scientists synthesized atomically ordered crystalline CNTh with a non-uniform configuration (all oxygens on one side) by compressing FDCA to approximately 12 GPa. With the exceptional long-range order in the product, they determined the precise crystal structure directly from X-ray diffraction, which shows an obvious contrast to previous reports of CNThs.

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Combined spectroscopy and theoretical simulation show that FDCA underwent reactions [4+2] Diels-Alder continuous along the stacking direction to form CNTh. Benefiting from abundant carbonyl groups, poly-FDCA CNTh has high specific capacity, excellent coulombic efficiency and rate performance as a lithium battery anode material.

“The reaction pressure of ~12GPa is relatively low,” said Dr. Xuan Wang, the study’s lead author. “And this is the first time biomass composites have been used to synthesize diamond carbon nanowire materials. We believe that our study will provide a new route to synthesize advanced functional carbon materials,” concluded Dr. Haiyan Zheng.