A hyperaccumulation pathway to three-dimensional hierarchical porous nanocomposites for highly robust high-power electrodes
Jian Zhu, Yu Shan, Tao Wang, Hongtao Sun, Zipeng Zhao, Lin Mei, Zheng Fan, Zhi Xu, Imran Shakir, Yu Huang, Bingan Lu, Xiangfeng Duan
Nature Commun. 7, 13432 (2016)
Natural plants consist of a hierarchical architecture featuring an intricate network of highly interconnected struts and channels that not only ensure extraordinary structural stability, but also allow efficient transport of nutrients and electrolytes throughout the entire plants. Here we show that a hyperaccumulation effect can allow efficient enrichment of selected metal ions (for example, Sn2+, Mn2+) in the halophytic plants, which can then be converted into three-dimensional carbon/metal oxide (3DC/MOx) nanocomposites with both the composition and structure hierarchy. The nanocomposites retain the 3D hierarchical porous network structure, with ultrafine MOx nanoparticles uniformly distributed in multi-layers of carbon derived from the cell wall, cytomembrane and tonoplast. It can simultaneously ensure efficient electron and ion transport and help withstand the mechanical stress during the repeated electrochemical cycles, enabling the active material to combine high specific capacities typical of batteries and the cycling stability of supercapacitors.