Chemical Vapor Deposition of Mesoporous Graphene Nanoballs for Supercapacitor

A mass-producible mesoporous graphene nanoball (MGB) was fabricated <i>via</i> a precursor-assisted chemical vapor deposition (CVD) technique for supercapacitor application. Polystyrene balls and reduced iron created under high temperature and a hydrogen gas environment provide a solid carbon source and a catalyst for graphene growth during the precursor-assisted CVD process, respectively. Carboxylic acid and sulfonic acid functionalization of the polystyrene ball facilitates homogeneous dispersion of the hydrophobic polymer template in the metal precursor solution, thus, resulting in a MGB with a uniform number of graphene layers. The MGB is shown to have a specific surface area of 508 m<sup>2</sup>/g and is mesoporous with a mean mesopore diameter of 4.27 nm. Mesopores are generated by the removal of agglomerated iron domains, permeating down through the soft polystyrene spheres and providing the surface for subsequent graphene growth during the heating process in a hydrogen environment. This technique requires only drop-casting of the precursor/polystyrene solution, allowing for mass-production of multilayer MGBs. The supercapacitor fabricated by the use of the MGB as an electrode demonstrates a specific capacitance of 206 F/g and more than 96% retention of capacitance after 10,000 cycles. The outstanding characteristics of the MGB as an electrode for supercapacitors verify the strong potential for use in energy-related areas.