Nanocomposites : characterization and applications towards electrical energy storage devices
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The growing need for energy to be stored in decreasing volumes has resulted in extensive amounts of research into materials chemistry, new fabrication techniques, and the utilization of nano-materials. In this investigation, we have extensively characterized two nanocomposite materials for potential use within energy storage devices. The first nanocomposite is a silicon oxycarbonitride (SiOCN) film grown by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition which demonstrates low leakage current, high breakdown strength (>7 MV cm ?�???), low roughness (<0.7 nm), low stress, and superb chemical inertness, making it an ideal candidate for use as a dielectric in thin film capacitors. Utilizing this SiOCN material, a technique has been developed to fabricate one-, two-, and three-layer thin film capacitors by highly selective etching techniques. The technique demonstrates the ability to fabricate devices with different numbers of active capacitive layers with the same number of steps. The second nanocomposite is a sputtered nanoparticle-in-ionic liquid colloid. Careful investigations into the deposited nanoparticle growth mechanism and resulting electrochemical properties suggest anions with more localized charges provide increased stability and produce single crystal particles and provide increased electrochemical performance (e.g. up to a 53% increase in potential window, 4.2x increase in ionic conductivity, 2.9x increase in double-layer capacitance), while less localized charges promote coalescence and do not provide enhanced electrochemical behavior. These properties suggest prospective use as electrolytes for increase energy and power density within electrochemical double layer capacitors, as well as improved performance in ionic liquid based solar cells and sensors.