Chemical-to-Electricity Carbon: Water Device

Sisi He, Yueyu Zhang, Longbin Qiu, Longsheng Zhang, Yun Xie, Jian Pan, Peining Chen, Bingjie Wang, Xiaojie Xu, Yajie Hu, Cao Thang Dinh, Phil De Luna, Mohammad Norouzi Banis, Zhiqiang Wang, Tsun Kong Sham, Xingao Gong, Bo Zhang*, Huisheng Peng, Edward H. Sargent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The ability to release, as electrical energy, potential energy stored at the water:carbon interface is attractive, since water is abundant and available. However, many previous reports of such energy converters rely on either flowing water or specially designed ionic aqueous solutions. These requirements restrict practical application, particularly in environments with quiescent water. Here, a carbon-based chemical-to-electricity device that transfers the chemical energy to electrical form when coming into contact with quiescent deionized water is reported. The device is built using carbon nanotube yarns, oxygen content of which is modulated using oxygen plasma-treatment. When immersed in water, the device discharges electricity with a power density that exceeds 700 mW m−2, one order of magnitude higher than the best previously published result. X-ray absorption and density functional theory studies support a mechanism of operation that relies on the polarization of sp2 hybridized carbon atoms. The devices are incorporated into a flexible fabric for powering personal electronic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1707635
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 3 2018


  • carbon nanotubes
  • chemical
  • electricity
  • energy
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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