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How to speed up ion transport in nanopores

  • Electrolyte-filled subnanometre pores exhibit exciting physics and play an increasingly important role in science and technology. In supercapacitors, for instance, ultranarrow pores provide excellent capacitive characteristics. However, ions experience difficulties in entering and leaving such pores, which slows down charging and discharging processes. In an earlier work we showed for a simple model that a slow voltage sweep charges ultranarrow pores quicker than an abrupt voltage step. A slowly applied voltage avoids ionic clogging and co-ion trapping—a problem known to occur when the applied potential is varied too quickly—causing sluggish dynamics. Herein, we verify this finding experimentally. Guided by theoretical considerations, we also develop a non-linear voltage sweep and demonstrate, with molecular dynamics simulations, that it can charge a nanopore even faster than the corresponding optimized linear sweep. For discharging we find, with simulations and in experiments, that if we reverse the applied potential and then sweep it to zero, the pores lose their charge much quicker than they do for a short-circuited discharge over their internal resistance. Our findings open up opportunities to greatly accelerate charging and discharging of subnanometre pores without compromising the capacitive characteristics, improving their importance for energy storage, capacitive deionization, and electrochemical heat harvesting.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Konrad Breitsprecher, Mathijs Janssen, Pattarachai SrimukORCiD, B. Layla Mehdi, Volker PresserORCiD, Christian Holm, Svyatoslav Kondrat
Parent Title (English):Nature Communications
Year of first Publication:2020
Release Date:2022/11/18
Impact:14.919 (2020)
Funding Information:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (EXC 2075 - 390740016327154368 – SFB 1313)
Open Access:Open Access
Signature:INM 2020/134
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International