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Sci Rep. 2013;3:1119. doi: 10.1038/srep01119. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

Carbon microfibers with hierarchical porous structure from electrospun fiber-like natural biopolymer.

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Materials Science Institute, PCFM Lab and DSAPM Lab, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, P R China.


Electrospinning offers a powerful route for building one-dimensional (1D) micro/nanostructures, but a common requirement for toxic or corrosive organic solvents during the preparation of precursor solution has limited their large scale synthesis and broad applications. Here we report a facile and low-cost way to prepare 1D porous carbon microfibers by using an electrospun fiber-like natural product, i.e., silk cocoon, as precursor. We surprisingly found that by utilizing a simple carbonization treatment, the cocoon microfiber can be directly transformed into 1D carbon microfiber of ca. 6 μm diameter with a unique three-dimensional porous network structure composed of interconnected carbon nanoparticles of 10~40 nm diameter. We further showed that the as-prepared carbon product presents superior electrochemical performance as binder-free electrodes of supercapacitors and good adsorption property toward organic vapor.

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