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High-performance mullite-based composite ceramics were prepared successfully using natural kaolin and alumina as raw materials and ZrO2 as an additive. The influence of sintering temperature and ZrO2 content on the sintering behaviour and mechanical properties of zirconia-toughened mullite ceramics was studied systematically. With increasing sintering temperature from 1450°C to 1560°C, the primary phases of as-sintered composite ceramics were mullite and corundum with a small amount of ZrO2, and the bulk density of the composite ceramics increased from 2.29 to 2.72 g cm–3. Furthermore, the ZrO2 phase transition promoted transgranular fracture, and ZrO2 grains were pinned at the grain boundaries, thereby enhancing the mechanical strength of the composite ceramics. Moreover, the AZS12 sample, with 12 wt.% ZrO2 and sintered at 1560°C, had the greatest flexural strength and fracture toughness of 91.6 MPa and 2.47 MPa m–1/2, respectively. Adding ZrO2 to the composite ceramics increased their flexural strength by ~37.6%.
Na–Se batteries are promising energy storage systems for grid and transportation applications, due to the high volumetric energy density and relatively low cost. However, the development of Na–Se batteries has been hindered by the shuttle effect originating from polyselenide dissolution from the Se cathode. Herein, we reported the utilization of nanoscale Al2O3 surface coating by atomic layer deposition (ALD) to protect a microporous carbon/Se (MPC/Se) cathode and reduce polyselenide dissolution. Compared with the pristine MPC/Se, Al2O3-coated MPC/Se cathode exhibited improved discharge capacity, cycling stability, and rate capability in Na–Se batteries. Post-cycling analysis disclosed that Al2O3 coating on MPC/Se cathode effectively suppressed the polyselenide dissolution, facilitated the formation of thin and stable solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) layers, and reduced charge transfer resistance, thus improving the overall performance of Na–Se batteries. This work suggests the effectiveness of interface control by ALD in enabling high-performance Na–Se batteries and might shed light on the development of new-generation Li/Na/K-chalcogenide batteries.
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