X-ray Spectroscopy Study of Defect Contribution to Lithium Adsorption on Porous Carbon
Lithium adsorption on high-surface-area porous carbon (PC) nanomaterials provides superior electrochemical energy storage performance dominated by capacitive behavior. In this study, we demonstrate the influence of structural defects in the graphene lattice on the bonding character of adsorbed lithium. Thermally evaporated lithium was deposited in vacuum on the surface of as-grown graphene-like PC and PC annealed at 400 °C. Changes in the electronic states of carbon were studied experimentally using surface-sensitive X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy. NEXAFS data in combination with density functional theory calculations revealed the dative interactions between lithium sp 2 hybridized states and carbon π*-type orbitals. Corrugated defective layers of graphene provide lithium with new bonding configurations, shorter distances, and stronger orbital overlapping, resulting in significant charge transfer between carbon and lithium. PC annealing heals defects, and as a result, the amount of lithium on the surface decreases. This conclusion was supported by electrochemical studies of as-grown and annealed PC in lithium-ion batteries. The former nanomaterial showed higher capacity values at all applied current densities. The results demonstrate that the lithium storage in carbon-based electrodes can be improved by introducing defects into the graphene layers.