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Bio-Inspired Hierarchical Nanofibrous Fe3O4–TiO2–Carbon Composite as a High-Performance Anode Material for Lithium-Ion Batteries

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journal contribution
posted on 22.06.2016, 00:00 by Shun Li, Mengya Wang, Yan Luo, Jianguo Huang
A bioinspired hierarchical nanofibrous Fe3O4–TiO2–carbon composite was fabricated by employing natural cellulose substance (e.g., filter paper) as both the scaffold and the carbon source and showed improved electrochemical performances when it is employed as an anode material for lithium-ion batteries. FeOOH nanoparticles were first grown uniformly onto the surface of the titania thin-layer precoated cellulose nanofibers, and thereafter, the as-prepared FeOOH–TiO2–cellulose composite was calcined and carbonized in argon atmosphere at 500 °C for 6 h to produce the Fe3O4–TiO2–carbon composite. The resultant composite possesses a hierarchical structure that was faithfully inherited from the initial cellulose substance, which was composed of titania-coated carbon fibers with corncob-like shaped Fe3O4 nanoparticles immobilized on the surfaces. The diameter of the composite nanofiber is ca. 100–200 nm, and the diameter of the Fe3O4 nanoparticle is about 30 nm, which is coated with an ultrathin carbon layer with a thickness about 3 nm. This composite displayed superior lithium-ion storage performance. It showed a first-cycle discharge capacity of 1340 mAh/g, delivering a stable reversible capacity of ca. 525 mAh/g after 100 charge–discharge cycles at a current density of 100 mA/g, and the efficiency is as high as ca. 95% of the theoretical value. This is much higher than those of the commercial Fe3O4 powder (160 mAh/g) and the Fe3O4–carbon counter material (310 mAh/g). It was demonstrated that the thin titania precoating layer (thickness ca. 3–5 nm) is necessary for the high content loading of the Fe3O4 nanoparticles onto the carbon nanofibers. Owing to the unique three-dimensional porous network structure of the carbon-fiber scaffold, together with the ultrathin outer carbon-coating layer, the composite showed significantly improved cycling stability and rate capability.