Self-tunable ultrathin carbon nanocups as the electrode material of sodium-ion batteries with unprecedented capacity and stability

Xian JIAN*, Hong WANG, Gaofeng RAO, Lingyan JIANG, Haonan WANG, Chandrasekar M. SUBRAMANIYAM, Asif MAHMOOD, Wanli ZHANG, Yong XIANG, Shi Xue DOU, Zuowan ZHOU, David HUI, Kourosh KALANTAR-ZADEH, Nasir MAHMOOD

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Structural instability and limited operational efficiency of sodium-ion battery (SIB) anodes, compared lithium-ion battery (LIB) anodes, are main hurdles for their large-scale applications that can be tackled using self-tunable electrode materials. Here, we created and utilized ultrathin partially-crystalline carbon nanocups (CNCs) that have the ability to self-tune their structure, contain highly tangled walls and present open framework for enhanced energy densities for SIBs and the outcomes are benchmarked with LIBs. The tangled wall structure offers enhanced spacings for ionic storage and the open framework supports enhanced mass transport, while partial-crystallinity of CNCs provides high conductivity and stabilizes the structure for long cycle life. The CNCs delivered high capacities up to 468 mAh/g for SIBs at 25 mA/g and 953 mAh/g for LIBs at 50 mA/g after 100 cycles, respectively, while bore excellent stability by delivering highly stable performance exceeding 1000 cycles for SIBs at 1.5 A/g and 5000 cycles for LIBs at 7.5 A/g (20 C) with only a loss of 0.013 mAh/g per cycle. Moreover, when tested in lower voltage ranges, the CNCs delivered unprecedented capacity of 368 mAh/g (0.01–2.0 V) for SIBs and 671 mAh/g (0.01–2.0 V) and 449 mAh/g (0.01–1.5 V) for LIBs at 25 and 50 mA/g, respectively, which indicate the usability of the CNCs in full-cells. The post-electrochemical characterizations revealed that the developed CNCs self-modified their interlayer spacings (average spacing increased to 0.44 nm from 0.42 nm) during charge-discharge to create additional voids for increased ionic storage and stable performance, especially for Na+, while maintaining their overall morphology, composition and structure. The structural design presented here will provide new pathways of tailoring carbonaceous nanostructures for future high-performance energy storage devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578-588
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Early online date2 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was financially supported by Fundamental Research Funds for the Science and Technology Planning Project of Sichuan Province (No. 2018GZ0131), the Central Universities (Grant No. ZYGX2016J139) and the Science and Technology Support Program of Sichuan Province (No. 2018RZ0042). The authors would also like to acknowledge the technical support provided by the RMIT University and the University of Wollongong.


  • Carbon
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Self-tunable anode
  • Sodium-ion battery
  • Ultra-stable capacity


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