Mesoscopic simulations of the in situ NMR spectra of porous carbon based supercapacitors: electronic structure and adsorbent reorganisation effects

A Sasikumar and A Belhboub and C Bacon and AC Forse and JM Griffin and CP Grey and P Simon and C Merlet, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 23, 15925-15934 (2021).

DOI: 10.1039/d1cp02130c

In situ NMR spectroscopy is a powerful technique to investigate charge storage mechanisms in carbon-based supercapacitors thanks to its ability to distinguish ionic and molecular species adsorbed in the porous electrodes from those in the bulk electrolyte. The NMR peak corresponding to the adsorbed species shows a clear change of chemical shift as the applied potential difference is varied. This variation in chemical shift is thought to originate from a combination of ion reorganisation in the pores and changes in ring current shifts due to the changes of electronic density in the carbon. While previous Density Functional Theory calculations suggested that the electronic density has a large effect, the relative contributions of these two effects is challenging to untangle. Here, we use mesoscopic simulations to simulate NMR spectra and investigate the relative importance of ion reorganisation and ring currents on the resulting chemical shift. The model is able to predict chemical shifts in good agreement with NMR experiments and indicates that the ring currents are the dominant contribution. A thorough analysis of a specific electrode/electrolyte combination for which detailed NMR experiments have been reported allows us to confirm that local ion reorganisation has a very limited effect but the relative quantities of ions in pores of different sizes, which can change upon charging/discharging, can lead to a significant effect. Our findings suggest that in situ NMR spectra of supercapacitors may provide insights into the electronic structure of carbon materials in the future.

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