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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Feb 16;107(7):2801-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0905571107. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Electric field enhanced hydrogen storage on polarizable materials substrates.

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  • 1Department of Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, and Center for Applied Physics and Technology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.


Using density functional theory, we show that an applied electric field can substantially improve the hydrogen storage properties of polarizable substrates. This new concept is demonstrated by adsorbing a layer of hydrogen molecules on a number of nanomaterials. When one layer of H(2) molecules is adsorbed on a BN sheet, the binding energy per H(2) molecule increases from 0.03 eV/H(2) in the field-free case to 0.14 eV/H(2) in the presence of an electric field of 0.045 a.u. The corresponding gravimetric density of 7.5 wt% is consistent with the 6 wt% system target set by Department of Energy for 2010. The strength of the electric field can be reduced if the substrate is more polarizable. For example, a hydrogen adsorption energy of 0.14 eV/H(2) can be achieved by applying an electric field of 0.03 a.u. on an AlN substrate, 0.006 a.u. on a silsesquioxane molecule, and 0.007 a.u. on a silsesquioxane sheet. Thus, application of an electric field to a polarizable substrate provides a novel way to store hydrogen; once the applied electric field is removed, the stored H(2) molecules can be easily released, thus making storage reversible with fast kinetics. In addition, we show that materials with rich low-coordinated nonmetal anions are highly polarizable and can serve as a guide in the design of new hydrogen storage materials.

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