Synthesis and Electrochemical Characterization of Iron Oxide / Activated Carbon Composite Electrode for Symmetrical Supercapacitor

In the present work, we have developed a symmetric electrochemical capacitor based on the nanostructured iron oxide (Fe3O4)-activated carbon (AC) nanocomposite materials. The physical properties of the nanocomposites were characterized by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) analysis. The electrochemical performances of the composite electrode in 1.0 M Na2SO3 and 1.0 M Na2SO4 aqueous solutions were evaluated using cyclic voltammetry (CV) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The composite electrode with 4 wt% of iron oxide nanomaterials exhibits the highest capacitance of 86 F/g. The experimental results clearly indicate that the incorporation of iron oxide nanomaterials at low concentration to the composite can improve the capacitive performance, mainly attributed to the contribution of the pseudocapacitance charge storage mechanism and the enhancement on the effective surface area of the electrode. Nevertheless, there is an optimum threshold on the amount of iron oxide that needs to be incorporated into the composite system. When this optimum threshold is exceeded, the capacitive performance of the electrode starts to deteriorate, as a result of the undesired particle aggregation, which is clearly indicated in the SEM analysis. The electrochemical performance of the composite electrode is found to be superior when Na2SO3 is used as the electrolyte, if compared to the Na2SO4 solution. It is believed that Fe3O4 nanoparticles can provide favourable surface adsorption sites for sulphite (SO3 2-) anions which act as catalysts for subsequent redox and intercalation reactions.