Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Ashok Kumar

Co-Major Professor

Elias K. Stefanakos


Coin Cells, Energy Density, Ionic Liquids, Polymer Nanocomposites, Specific Capacitance


The developments in mobile/portable electronics and alternative energy vehicles prompted engineers and researchers to develop electrochemical energy storage devices called supercapacitors, as the third generation type capacitors. Most of the research and development on supercapacitors focus on electrode materials, electrolytes and hybridization. Some attempts have been directed towards increasing the energy density by employing electroactive materials, such as metal oxides and conducting polymers (CPs). However, the high cost and toxicity of applicable metal oxides and poor long term stability of CPs paved the way to alternative electrode materials. The electroactive materials with carbon particles in composites have been used substantially to improve the stability of supercapacitors. Furthermore, the use of carbon particles and CPs could significantly reduce the cost of supercapacitor electrodes compared to metal oxides. Recent developments in carbon allotropes, such as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and especially graphene (G), have found applications in supercapacitors because of their enhanced double layer capacitance due to the large surface area, electrochemical stability, and excellent mechanical and thermal properties.

The main objective of the research presented in this dissertation is to increase the energy density of supercapacitors by the development of nanocomposite materials composed of graphene and different CPs, such as: (a) polyaniline derivatives (polyaniline (PANI), methoxy (-OCH3) aniline (POA) and methyl (-CH3) aniline (POT), (b) poly(3-4 ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) and (c) polypyrrole (PPy). The research was carried out in two phases, namely, (i) the development and performance evaluation of G-CP (graphene in conducting polymers) electrodes for supercapacitors, and (ii) the fabrication and testing of the coin cell supercapacitors with G-CP electrodes.

In the first phase, the synthesis of different morphological structures of CPs as well as their composites with graphene was carried out, and the synthesized nanostructures were characterized by different physical, chemical and thermal characterization techniques, such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), UV-visible spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, BET surface area pore size distribution analysis and Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA). The electrochemical properties of G-CP nanocomposite-based supercapacitors were investigated using Cyclic Voltammetry (CV), galvanostatic charge-discharge and Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) techniques in different electrolytes, such as acidic (2M H2SO4 and HCl), organic ( 0.2 M LiClO4) and ionic liquid (1M BMIM-PF6) electrolytes.

A comparative study was carried out to investigate the capacitive properties of G-PANI derivatives for supercapacitor applications. The methyl substituted polyaniline with graphene as a nanocomposite (G-POT) exhibited a better capacitance (425 F/g) than the G-PANI or the G-POA nanocomposite due to the electron donating group of G-POT. The relaxation time constants of 0.6, 2.5, and 5s for the G-POT, G-PANI and G-POA nanocomposite-based supercapacitors were calculated from the complex model by using the experimental EIS data.

The specific capacitances of two-electrode system supercapacitor cells were estimated as 425, 400, 380, 305 and 267 F/g for G-POT, G-PANI, G-POA, G-PEDOT and G-PPy, respectively. The improvements in specific capacitance were observed due to the increased surface area with mesoporous nanocomposite structures (5~10 nm pore size distribution) and the pseudocapacitance effect due to the redox properties of the CPs. Further, the operating voltage of G-CP supercapacitors was increased to 3.5 V by employing an ionic liquid electrolyte, compared to 1.5 V operating voltage when aqueous electrolytes were used. On top of the gain in the operating voltage, the graphene nano-filler of the nanocomposite prevented the degradation of the CPs in the long term charging and discharging processes.

In the second phase, after studying the material's chemistry and capacitive properties in three-electrode and two-electrode configuration-based basic electrochemical test cells, coin cell type supercapacitors were fabricated using G-CP nanocomposite electrodes to validate the tested G-CPs as devices. The fabrication process was optimized for the applied force and the number of spacers in crimping the two electrodes together. The pseudocapacitance and double layer capacitance values were extracted by fitting experimental EIS data to a proposed equivalent circuit, and the pseudocapacitive effect was found to be higher with G-PANI derivative nanocomposites than with the other studied G-CP nanocomposites due to the multiple redox states of G-PANI derivatives. The increased specific capacitance, voltage and small relaxation time constants of the G-CPs paved the way for the fabrication of safe, stable and high energy density supercapacitors.