Heterostructured Lepidocrocite Titanate-Carbon Nanosheets for Electrochemical Applications
Lepidocrocite-type titanates that reversibly intercalate sodium ions at low potentials (∼0.6 V vs Na/Na+) are promising anode candidates for sodium-ion batteries. However, large amounts of carbon additives are often used to improve their electrical conductivity and overcome poor cycling performance in the electrode composites. To ameliorate electronic transport issues of lepidocrocite titanate (K0.8Ti1.73Li0.27O4, KTL) in sodium-ion batteries, we have designed and synthesized heterostructures of exfoliated lepidocrocite-type titanium oxide (LTO) nanosheets with alternating carbon layers via a solution-based self-assembly approach. Positively charged dopamine (Dopa) was used as the carbon precursor and intercalated between negatively charged exfoliated titania nanosheets through electrostatic interaction. Dopa-intercalated LTO was then annealed under argon to form conductive carbon layers between titania sheets. The carbon content in the heterostructures was controlled by modifying the self-assembly conditions (i.e., pH, stirring duration, and Dopa-to-LTO ratio). Electrodes were prepared using carbonized heterostructures (LTO-C) without adding more carbon to the composites and tested in sodium half-cell configurations. Higher capacities and improved capacity retention over 250 cycles and lower impedance were observed, as the carbon content of LTO-C heterostructures was increased from 0% (LTO nanosheets) to 30%. These results indicate that the self-assembly approach for 2D heterostructured electrode materials is a promising strategy to overcome electronic transport limitations of layered transition-metal oxides and improve their electrochemical performance for next-generation energy storage applications.