In-situ TEM examination and exceptional long-term cyclic stability of ultrafine Fe3O4nanocrystal/carbon nanofiber composite electrodes

Zheng Long Xu, Biao Zhang, Yang Gang, Ke Cao, Mohammad Akbari Garakani, Sara Abouali, Jiaqiang Huang, Jian Qiu Huang, Elham Kamali Heidari, Hongtao Wang, Jang Kyo Kim

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Scalable synthesis of electrode materials with long cyclic life, high energy and power densities is a prerequisite for next-generation Li ion batteries. Freestanding composite films are prepared by one-pot electrospinning, in which ultrafine Fe3O4nanoparticles are uniformly dispersed in a continuous carbon nanofiber (CNF) matrix. The Fe3O4/CNF electrodes deliver remarkable electrochemical performance, e.g. a reversible capacity of 881 mA h g−1at 0.2 A g−1, excellent cyclic stability of 687 mA h g−1after 350 cycles at 0.5 A g−1and a high-rate capability of 422 mA h g−1after 1000 cycles at 5.0 A g−1with 84% capacity retention. These values are among the highest ever reported for various nanostructured iron oxide-based electrodes. Even after prolonged cycles, the CNF matrix containing ultrafine nanocrystals remains structurally sound without damage. In contrast, the Fe3O4/CNF-750 electrode containing larger Fe3O4particles obtained at a higher carbonization temperature of 750 °C presents faster capacity decay and cracking of CNF matrix due to larger volume expansion. The in-situ TEM analysis is used to provide an insight into real-time structural evolution and conversion reactions. It is revealed that (i) upon initial lithiation, the Fe3O4nanoparticles embedded in the CNF are gradually reduced to Fe nanograins along the Li ion diffusion direction; and (ii) after delithiation, a new oxidation product, FeO, emerges, instead of Fe3O4. The irreversible phase conversion from Fe3O4to Fe is the first of its kind reported for Fe3O4electrodes although a similar phenomenon has been proposed for other electrode materials, like Fe2O3and Co3O4.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Storage Materials
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon nanofibers
  • Electrospinning
  • Fe O 3 4
  • In-situ TEM
  • Lithium ion batteries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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