Fabrication of carbon nanofiber electrodes using poly(acrylonitrile-co-vinylimidazole) and their energy storage performance

  • Kyung-Hye JungEmail author
  • So Jeong Kim
  • Ye Ji Son
  • John P. Ferraris
Original Article


For electrodes in electrochemical double-layer capacitors, carbon nanofibers (CNFs) were prepared by thermal treatment of precursor polymer nanofibers, fabricated by electrospinning. Poly(acrylonitrile-co-vinylimidazole) (PAV) was employed as a precursor polymer of carbon nanofibers due to the effective cyclization of PAV polymer chains during thermal treatment compared to a typical precursor, polyacrylonitrile (PAN). PAV solutions with different comonomer compositions were prepared and electrospun to produce precursor nanofibers. Surface images obtained from scanning electron microscopy showed that their nanofibrous structure was well preserved after carbonization. It was also confirmed that electrospun PAV nanofibers were successfully converted to carbon nanofibers after the carbonization step by Raman spectroscopy. Carbon nanofiber electrodes derived from PAV showed higher specific capacitances and energy/power densities than those from PAN, which was tested by coin-type cells. It was also shown that PAV with an acrylonitrile/vinylimidazole composition of 83:17 is most promising for the carbon nanofiber precursor exhibiting a specific capacitance of 114 F/g. Their energy and power density are 70.1 Wh/kg at 1 A/g and 9.5 W/kg at 6 A/g, respectively. In addition, pouch cells were assembled to load the higher amount of electrode materials in the cells, and a box-like cyclic voltammetry was obtained with high capacitances.


Carbon nanofibers Carbon precursor Electrodes Electrospinning 



The financial support by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2015R1C1A2A01051863) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank Dr. Dennis W. Smith Jr. and Wenjin Deng for providing PAVs.


  1. 1.
    Thavasi V, Singh G, Ramakrishna S (2008) Electrospun nanofibers in energy and environmental applications. Energ Environ Sci 1:205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Zhang L, Aboagye A, Kelkar A, Lai C, Fong H (2014) A review: carbon nanofibers from electrospun polyacrylonitrile and their applications. J Mater Sci 49:463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Yoon YJ, Baik HK (2001) Catalytic growth mechanism of carbon nanofibers through chemical vapor deposition. Diam Relat Mater 10:1214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lim J-S, Lee S-Y, Park S-M, Kim M-S (2005) Preparation of carbon nanofibers by catalytic CVD and their purification. Carbon Lett 6:31Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Huang ZM, Zhang YZ, Kotaki M, Ramakrishna S (2003) A review on polymer nanofibers by electrospinning and their applications in nanocomposites. Compos Sci Technol 63:2223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kim C, Yang K-S (2002) Preparation and characterization of PAN-based web of carbon nanofibers by electrostatic spinning. Carbon Lett 3:210Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Jung M-J, Im Ji S, Jeong E, Jin H, Lee Y-S (2009) Hydrogen adsorption of PAN-based porous carbon nanofibers using MgO as the substrate. Carbon Lett 10:217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rahaman MSA, Ismail AF, Mustafa A (2007) A review of heat treatment on polyacrylonitrile fiber. Polym Degrad Stab 92:1421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bai BC, Kim JG, Im Ji S, Lee Y-S (2011) The hydrogen storage capacity of metal-containing polyacrylonitrile-based electrospun carbon nanofibers. Carbon Lett 12:171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Rand B, Appleyard SP, Yardim MF (2012) Design and control of structure of advanced carbon materials for enhanced performance, vol 374. Springer Science & Business Media, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Deng WJ, Lobovsky A, Iacono ST, Wu TY, Tomar N, Budy SM, Long T, Hoffman WP, Smith DW (2011) Poly (acrylonitrile-co-1-vinylimidazole): a new melt processable carbon fiber precursor. Polymer 52:622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Faraji S, Yardim MF, Can DS, Sarac AS (2017) Characterization of polyacrylonitrile, poly (acrylonitrile-co-vinyl acetate), and poly (acrylonitrile-co-itaconic acid) based activated carbon nanofibers. J Appl Polym Sci 134:44381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chen J, Harrison I (2002) Modification of polyacrylonitrile (PAN) carbon fiber precursor via post-spinning plasticization and stretching in dimethyl formamide (DMF). Carbon 40:25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Yusof N, Ismail A (2012) Post spinning and pyrolysis processes of polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based carbon fiber and activated carbon fiber: a review. J Anal Appl Pyrol 93:1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Liu J, He L, Ma S, Liang J, Zhao Y, Fong H (2015) Effects of chemical composition and post-spinning stretching process on the morphological, structural, and thermo-chemical properties of electrospun polyacrylonitrile copolymer precursor nanofibers. Polymer 61:20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wangxi Z, Jie L, Gang W (2003) Evolution of structure and properties of PAN precursors during their conversion to carbon fibers. Carbon 41:2805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Agend F, Naderi N, Fareghi-Alamdari R (2007) Fabrication and electrical characterization of electrospun polyacrylonitrile-derived carbon nanofibers. J Appl Polym Sci 106:255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jung K-H, Deng W, Smith DW, Ferraris JP (2012) Carbon nanofiber electrodes for supercapacitors derived from new precursor polymer: poly(acrylonitrile-co-vinylimidazole). Electrochem Commun 23:149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Burke A (2000) Ultracapacitors: why, how, and where is the technology. J Power Sour 91:37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Shukla A, Sampath S, Vijayamohanan K (2000) Electrochemical supercapacitors: energy storage beyond batteries. Curr Sci 79:1656Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Jung K-H, Ferraris JP (2012) Preparation and electrochemical properties of carbon nanofibers derived from polybenzimidazole/polyimide precursor blends. Carbon 50:5309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Jung K-H, Ferraris JP (2016) Preparation of porous carbon nanofibers derived from PBI/PLLA for supercapacitor electrodes. Nanotechnology 27:425708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Wang Y, Serrano S, Santiago-Avilés JJ (2003) Raman characterization of carbon nanofibers prepared using electrospinning. Synth Met 138:423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Cançado L, Takai K, Enoki T, Endo M, Kim Y, Mizusaki H, Jorio A, Coelho L, Magalhaes-Paniago R, Pimenta M (2006) General equation for the determination of the crystallite size L a of nanographite by Raman spectroscopy. Appl Phys Lett 88:163106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wang X, Zhou H, Sheridan E, Walmsley JC, Ren D, Chen D (2016) Geometrically confined favourable ion packing for high gravimetric capacitance in carbon–ionic liquid supercapacitors. Energy Environ Sci 9:232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Tooming T, Thomberg T, Kurig H, Jänes A, Lust E (2015) High power density supercapacitors based on the carbon dioxide activated d-glucose derived carbon electrodes and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate ionic liquid. J Power Sour 280:667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Van Aken KL, Beidaghi M, Gogotsi Y (2015) Formulation of ionic-liquid electrolyte to expand the voltage window of supercapacitors. Angew Chem Int Ed 54:4806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Balducci A, Dugas R, Taberna P-L, Simon P, Plee D, Mastragostino M, Passerini S (2007) High temperature carbon–carbon supercapacitor using ionic liquid as electrolyte. J Power Sour 165:922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Cruz MED (2012) Development of carbon nanofibers for supercapacitor electrode applications. Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at DallasGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Jung K-H, Panapitiya N, Ferraris JP (2018) Electrochemical energy storage performance of carbon nanofiber electrodes derived from 6FDA-durene. Nanotechnology 29:275701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kim C, Yang K (2003) Electrochemical properties of carbon nanofiber web as an electrode for supercapacitor prepared by electrospinning. Appl Phys Lett 83:1216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Abeykoon NC, Bonso JS, Ferraris JP (2015) Supercapacitor performance of carbon nanofiber electrodes derived from immiscible PAN/PMMA polymer blends. RSC Adv 5:19865CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Liwen J, Xiangwu Z (2009) Fabrication of porous carbon nanofibers and their application as anode materials for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Nanotechnology 20:155705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Bonso JS, Kalaw GD, Ferraris JP (2014) High surface area carbon nanofibers derived from electrospun PIM-1 for energy storage applications. J Mater Chem A 2:418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Abeykoon NC, Garcia V, Jayawickramage RA, Perera W, Cure J, Chabal YJ, Balkus KJ, Ferraris JP (2017) Novel binder-free electrode materials for supercapacitors utilizing high surface area carbon nanofibers derived from immiscible polymer blends of PBI/6FDA-DAM: DABA. RSC Adv 7:20947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Kim C (2005) Electrochemical characterization of electrospun activated carbon nanofibres as an electrode in supercapacitors. J Power Sour 142:382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Tsai JS, Lin CH (1991) Effect of comonomer composition on the properties of polyacrylonitrile precursor and resulting carbon fiber. J Appl Polym Sci 43:679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Nguyen-Thai NU, Hong SC (2014) Controlled architectures of poly (acrylonitrile-co-itaconic acid) for efficient structural transformation into carbon materials. Carbon 69:571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Cetiner S, Sen S, Arman B, Sarac AS (2013) Acrylonitrile/vinyl acetate copolymer nanofibers with different vinylacetate content. J Appl Polym Sci 127:3830CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Korean Carbon Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyung-Hye Jung
    • 1
    Email author
  • So Jeong Kim
    • 1
  • Ye Ji Son
    • 1
  • John P. Ferraris
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Advanced Materials and Chemical EngineeringDaegu Catholic UniversityGyeongsanSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryThe University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

Personalised recommendations