Ultralight and compressible mussel-inspired dopamine-conjugated poly(aspartic acid)/Fe3+-multifunctionalized graphene aerogel

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The reduced graphene oxide (rGO) aerogels are particularly attractive owing to their ultralight-weight, high surface area and interconnected macroporosity for energy storage applications. However, pure rGO aerogels are generally weak and brittle to limit their practical applications. To overcome this drawback, a small amount of synthetic dopamine-conjugated poly(aspartic acid) was mixed with graphene oxide to fabricate ultralight rGO aerogels with high porosity and mechanical integrity via hydrothermal reactions at 80 °C and freeze-drying process. In addition, the Fe3+ ionic species was chosen for an additional cross-linker to further strengthen the ultralight poly(aspartic acid/dopamine) functionalized rGO aerogel, abbreviation for PAAD/rGO, through the coordination bonding between Fe3+ and carboxylic acid or catechol groups of both polymer and rGO sheets at pH 9 (PAAD/rGO-Fe❾). The hybrid electrodes of PAAD/rGO-Fe❾ showed the reversible transformation of the Fe3+ tris-catecholate complexes into mono-catecholate promoting Quinone (Q)-hydroquinone (QH2) in 1.0 mol L−1 H2SO4 electrolyte, thus delivering a high specific capacitance of 276.4 F g−1 at 0.5 A g−1 and capacitance retention of 88.2% after 5000 cycles. Moreover, this compressible aerogel provided high strength with 150 kPa without noticeable structural fracture after 80% compression and repeated deformation processes suggesting applications in energy storage and absorption.

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This work was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (NRF-2016R1D1A1A09918727).

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Correspondence to Ho Seok Park or Ji-Heung Kim.

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Wang, B., Kang, Y., Shen, T. et al. Ultralight and compressible mussel-inspired dopamine-conjugated poly(aspartic acid)/Fe3+-multifunctionalized graphene aerogel. J Mater Sci 53, 16484–16499 (2018).

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