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Melanin: A Greener Route To Enhance Energy Storage under Solar Light

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journal contribution
posted on 16.07.2019, 18:15 by Ri Xu, Abdelaziz Gouda, Maria Federica Caso, Francesca Soavi, Clara Santato
The development of technologies integrating solar energy conversion and energy storage functions is critical for limiting the anthropogenic effects on climate change and preventing possible energy shortages related to the increase of the world population. In our work, we explored the possibility to integrate the conversion and storage functions within the same multifunctional biosourced material. We identified the redox-active, quinone-based, melanin pigment, featuring a broadband absorption in the UV–vis region, as the ideal candidate for such an exploration. Electrodes of melanin on carbon paper were investigated for their morphological, optical, and voltammetric characteristics prior to being assembled into symmetric supercapacitors operating in aqueous electrolytes. We observed that, under solar light, the capacity and capacitance of melanin electrodes significantly increase with respect to the dark conditions (by 22 and 39%, respectively). Once in a supercapacitor configuration, besides featuring a Coulombic efficiency close to 100% after 5000 cycles, the capacitance and capacity of the electrodes, rated by the initial values, improve after prolonged illumination, as it is the case for the energy and power density.