Mechanically Strong Graphene/Aramid Nanofiber Composite Electrodes for Structural Energy and Power.
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Structural energy and power systems offer both mechanical and electrochemical performance in a single multifunctional platform. These are of growing interest because they potentially offer reduction in mass and/or volume for aircraft, satellites, and ground transportation. To this end, flexible graphene-based supercapacitors have attracted much attention due to their extraordinary mechanical and electrical properties, yet they suffer from poor strength. This problem may be exacerbated with the inclusion of functional guest materials, often yielding strengths of <15 MPa. Here, we show that graphene paper supercapacitor electrodes containing aramid nanofibers as guest materials exhibit extraordinarily high tensile strength (100.6 MPa) and excellent electrochemical stability. This is achieved by extensive hydrogen bonding and - interactions between the graphene sheets and aramid nanofibers. The trade-off between capacitance and mechanical properties is evaluated as a function of aramid nanofiber loading, where it is shown that these electrodes exhibit multifunctionality superior to that of other graphene-based supercapacitors, nearly rivaling those of graphene-based pseudocapacitors. We anticipate these composite electrodes to be a starting point for structural energy and power systems that harness the mechanical properties of aramid nanofibers.