Crab Shells for Batteries

  • Author: ChemistryViews
  • Published: 29 June 2013
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
  • Source / Publisher: Nano Letters/ACS
thumbnail image: Crab Shells for Batteries

Yi Cui, Stanford University, CA, USA, and colleagues developed a sustainable and cost-effective route to prepare nanostructured battery electrode materials. Crab shells with the unique Bouligand structure consisting of highly mineralized chitin-protein fibers were used as biotemplates to fabricate hollow carbon nanofibers.


The team burned off the organic matter on the crab shells, grinded the calcium carbonate shells into a powder and mixed the powder in a solution of dopamine to coat the calcium carbonate in a dopamine polymer. Heating the powder at 800 °C turned the polymer into a layer of carbon. Using dilute hydrochloric acid, the scientists etched away the calcium carbonate shell and received hollow, 65-nm-wide carbon nanofibers grouped into bunches. These can be used to encapsulate sulfur and silicon to form cathodes and anodes for Li-ion batteries.

The resulting nanostructured electrodes show high specific capacities of 1230 mAh/g for sulfur and 3060 mAh/g for silicon and excellent cycling performance of up to 200 cycles with 60 and 95 % capacity retention, respectively.


The authors see this biotemplating concept opening a new avenue for producing nanostructured electrode materials from low-cost sustainable sources.


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