Facile Synthesis of Electrically Conductive and Heatable Nanoparticle/Nanocarbon Hybrid Aerogels

Dong Xia, Jamie Mannering, Qun Li, Alexander Massey, Alexander Kulak, Heng Li, Robert Menzel, Peng Huang

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Joule heating studies on nanoparticle/nanocarbon hybrid aerogels have been reported, but systematic investigations on hydrotalcite-derived catalysts supported onto reduced graphene oxide (rGO) aerogels are rare. In this study, hydrotalcite-derived Cu-Al2O3 nanoparticles were incorporated into a porous and multifunctional rGO aerogel support for fabricating electrically conducting Cu-Al2O3/rGO hybrid aerogels, and their properties were investigated in detail. The hybridization of Cu-Al2O3 with a 3D nanocarbon support network imparts additional functionalities to the widely used functional inorganic nanoparticles, such as direct electrical framework heating and easy regeneration and separation of spent nanoparticles, with well-spaced nanoparticle segregation. 3D variable-range hopping model fitting confirmed that electrons were able to reach the entire aerogel to enable uniform resistive heating. The conductivity of the nanocarbon support framework facilitates uniform and fast heating (up to 636 K/min) of the embedded nanoparticles at very low energy consumption, while the large porosity and high thermal conductivity enable efficient heat dissipation during natural cooling (up to 336 K/min). The thermal stability of the hybrid aerogel was demonstrated by repeated heating/cooling cycling at different temperatures that were relevant to important industrial applications. The facile synthetic approach can be easily adapted to fabricate other types of multifunctional nanoparticle/nanocarbon hybrid aerogels, such as the MgAl-MMO/rGO aerogel and the Ni-Al2O3/rGO aerogel. These findings open up new routes to the functionalization of inorganic nanoparticles and extend their application ranges that involve electrical/thermal heating, temperature-dependent catalysis, sorption, and sensing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number36201-36212
Number of pages12
JournalACS applied materials & interfaces
Issue number30
Early online date22 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2021


  • Joule heating
  • graphene aerogel
  • inorganic nanoparticles
  • layered double hydroxide
  • nanoparticle/nanocarbon hybrid
  • support framework


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