With common manufacturing approaches it is impossible to fabricate complex free-standing 3D carbon electrodes with well-defined geometrical structures. Here, a novel and straightforward approach to generate free-standing 3D carbon structures is developed based on stereolithography printing followed by pyrolysis. By controlling the design, printing and pyrolysis parameters, complex 3D pyrolytic carbon electrodes with minimal features of less than 100 μm and excellent structural uniformity were fabricated. The effects of carbonization condition (kinetics of thermal degradation) and final pyrolysis temperature on the physicochemical properties of the derived carbons were examined. The results show that the microstructural and electrochemical properties of the electrodes are more dependent on the carbonization condition than the pyrolysis temperature. Approximately 20% higher cyclic voltammetry peak currents (Ip) and 31% lower charge transfer resistance (Rct) were recorded for the kinetically-fast carbonized electrodes, compared to the gradually (kinetically-controlled) carbonized ones, which is ascribed to their relatively higher specific surface area measured by N2 adsorption/desorption technique. Moreover, great flexibility to construct electrodes with different architectures, excellent electrochemical stability and repeatability was observed. Overall, we believe that the proposed approach opens up new possibilities for the simple preparation of free-standing 3D carbon electrodes for a broad spectrum of applications.
- 3D printing
- Pyrolytic carbon
- Electrochemical characterization
- UV curable resins
- Additive manufacturing