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ARTICLE pubs.acs.


Cobalt Oxide Nanowall Arrays on Reduced Graphene Oxide Sheets with Controlled Phase, Grain Size, and Porosity for Li-Ion Battery Electrodes
Jixin Zhu, Yogesh Kumar Sharma,, Zhiyuan Zeng, Xiaojun Zhang, Madhavi Srinivasan,, Subodh Mhaisalkar,, Hua Zhang, Huey Hoon Hng, and Qingyu Yan*,,

School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798, Singapore Energy Research Institute@NTU, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 637459, Singapore

S b Supporting Information

ABSTRACT: A facile chemical approach has been developed to produce nanohybrids with ultrathin Co oxides nanowall arrays on reduced graphene oxide (rGO) sheets. The Co oxides exhibited porous structure. The porosity of the Co oxide/rGO nanohybrids and the grain size of the Co oxides could be tailored by varying the annealing temperature, which directly aected their performance as Li-ion battery electrodes. When tested as anode materials for Liion batteries, these Co oxide/rGO nanohybrids showed structuralprocess-dependent performances. For example, Co3O4/rGO hybrids obtained by annealing R-Co(OH)2/rGO at 350 C showed a high specic capacity of 673 mAh g1 after 100 cycles at a discharge current density of 180 mA g1 (0.2 C), which was better than Co3O4/rGO samples obtained at other annealing temperatures. Similarly, CoO/rGO hybrids obtained by pyrolysis of R-Co(OH)2/rGO at 350 C showed optimum performance, as compared to that of CoO/rGO samples obtained at other annealing temperatures, with a capacity of 732 mAh g1 after 100 cycles at a discharge current density of 150 mA g1 (0.2 C). Although many metal oxide/rGO hybrid systems have been investigated as electrode materials for Li-ion batteries, this study indicates that optimization of such nanohybrids by adjusting the phases, grain sizes, and porosities is necessary to achieve ideal Li storage performances.

INTRODUCTION Controlled synthesis processes of nanomaterials to deliver desired structure, shape, composition, and size have led to many promising applications, e.g., photovoltaic devices,1 eld eect transistors,2,3 thermoelectric modules,47 and electrodes for supercapacitors8,9 or Li-ion batteries.10,11 For applications as electrodes of Li-ion batteries, it is important to achieve high specic surface area, high electrical conductivity, and an eective Li-ion diusion process. Preparation of nanostructured electrode materials with designed shapes, crystals size and surface area becomes a considerable strategy to improve the capacity and cyclability of Li-ion batteries.12,13 However, due to the high reactivity and large volume swings during the Li-ion intercalation process, nanostructured electrode materials may still degrade during charge/discharge cycling.14 Normally for electrode materials, high surface area with high crystalinity can expose reactive site and allow eective Li-ion insertion/extraction to the host, while small grain size can shorten the Li-ion diusion path, which leads to high specic capacities.
r 2011 American Chemical Society

Hybridizing nanostructures with conducting matrices, e.g., amorphous carbon shell,1517 carbon nanotubes,18 or graphene sheets,1924 to form complex structures have been reported to be an eective route to overcome these problems. Especially, nanocomposites of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) sheets attached with metal oxide (MO) nanoparticles have been shown to exhibit high specic capacities and stable charge/discharge cycling performances.22,23,25,26 The rGO sheets can oer a conductive scaold to maintain the reliable contact between the electrode materials (e.g., Co3O4) and current collectors during the charge/discharge process, which results in stable cycling performance. However, it is worth pointing out that optimization of the individual rGO/MO hybrid system is required in order to achieve its ideal Li storage performances. This should involve adjusting their phases, grain sizes, and even
Received: January 8, 2011 Revised: March 17, 2011 Published: April 01, 2011
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The Journal of Physical Chemistry C porosity of MO nanostructures in the rGO/MO hybrids, which have not been well investigated. Herein, we showed a facile chemical approach to produce nanohybrids with ultrathin Co oxides nanowall arrays attached on rGO sheets. The Co oxide/rGO hybrids were derived from R-Co(OH)2/rGO precursors produced from a hydrothermal process. Through a controlled annealing process, e.g., under dierent gas environments and dierent temperature, we could adjust the phase, grain size of the Co oxides, and even the total surface area of the Co oxide/rGO hybrids. When tested as anode materials for Li-ion batteries, these Co oxide/rGO nanohybrids showed structural-process-dependent performances. Although the optimized samples showed very promising performances as Li-ion battery anodes, e.g., a capacity of 732 mAh g1 after 100 cycles at a discharge current density of 150 mA g1 (0.2 C), it was also revealed that samples without proper structural properties adjustment showed poor performances. It indicated that tuning the detailed structural properties of such attractive rGO/MO hybrids should be considered of utmost importance in order to render their advanced performances as Li-ion battery electrodes.


Synthesis of the Graphite Oxide. Graphite oxide was synthesized from natural graphite (SP-1) by a modified Hummers method.19,2729 In brief, 1.5 g of graphite powder was added into a mixture of 10 mL of 98% H2SO4, 1.25 g of K2S2O8, and 1.25 g of P2O5, and the solution was maintained at 80 C for 4.5 h. The resulting preoxidized product was cleaned using water and dried in a vacuum oven at 50 C. After it was mixed with 60 mL of 98% H2SO4 and a slowly added 7.5 g of KMnO4 at a temperature below 20 C, then 125 mL of H2O was added. After 2 h, an additional 200 mL of H2O and 10 mL of 30% H2O2 were slowly added into the solution to completely react with the excess KMnO4. After 10 min, a bright yellow solution was obtained. The resulting mixture was washed with diluted HCl aqueous (1/10 v/v) solution and H2O. The graphite oxide was obtained after drying in a vacuum oven at 30 C. Synthesis of Co3O4 or CoO/rGO Nanowalls. Cobalt precursor nanowalls: 30 mg of graphite oxide was dispersed in 40 mL 99.9% ethanol by ultrasonication to obtain graphene oxide (GO). Then, 292 mg of Co(NO3)2 3 6H2O and 100 L of 25% ammonia were added into the solution. The mixture was sealed in a 50 mL Teflon-lined autoclave and maintained at 170 C for 5 h. After it was cooled to room temperature, the precipitate was collected and washed using ethanol. Co3O4/rGO nanowalls were obtained by thermal pyrolysis of the as-prepared cobalt precursor at selected temperatures (e.g., 250, 350, 450 C) for 30 min at a heating rate of 10 C/min in air. The obtained Co3O4/rGO hybrids were correspondingly named as Co3O4/rGO-250, Co3O4/rGO-350, and Co3O4/rGO-450 according to the reaction temperatures of 250, 350, and 450 C. CoO/rGO nanowalls were obtained under the same conditions except for the replacement of air for Ar gas. The CoO/rGO hybrids were named as CoO/rGO-250, CoO/rGO350, and CoO/rGO-450, respectively, according to the reaction temperatures of 250, 350, and 450 C. Materials Characterization. The morphology of the samples were investigated by using a field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) system (JEOL, model JSM-7600F), and the nanostructures of the samples were characterized by using a transmission electron microscopy (TEM) system (JEOL, Model

JEM-2100) operating at 200 kV. To investigate the samples via TEM, a suspension of the MO/rGO nanohybrids in ethanol was drop-casted onto carbon-coated copper grids and dried under ambient conditions. Crystal phases of samples were identified using a Scintag PAD-V X-ray diffractometer with Cu KR irradiation. Thermogravimetry analysis (TGA, Q500) was carried out in the temperature of 30 to 800 C at a heating rate of 10 K min1 in air. Raman spectra were obtained with a WITec CRM200 confocal Raman microscopy system with a laser wavelength of 488 nm and a spot size of 0.5 mm. Nitrogen adsorption/desorption isotherms were measured on a Micromeritics TriStar 3000 porosimeter (mesoporous characterization) and Micromeritics ASAP 2020 (microporous characterization) at 77 K. All samples were outgassed at 100 C for 6 h under vacuum before measurements were recorded. The specic surface areas were calculated using the Brunauer EmmettTeller (BET) method. Electrochemical Measurements. 80 wt % active material (Co3O4/rGO or CoO/rGO), 10 wt % acetylene black (SuperP), and 10 wt % polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) binder were mixed into N-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone (NMP). The obtained slurry was coated onto Cu foil disks to form the working electrodes, which were then dried in vacuum at 50 C for 12 h to remove the solvent. Electrochemical measurements were carried out on the CR2032 (3 V) coin-type cells with lithium metal as the counter/reference electrode, Celgard 2400 membrane as the separator, and electrolyte solution obtained by dissolving 1 M LiPF6 into a mixture of ethylene carbonate (EC) and dimethyl carbonate (DMC) (EC/DMC, 50:50 wt/wt). The coin cells were assembled in an Ar-filled glovebox with concentrations of moisture and oxygen below 1.0 ppm. The charge/ discharge tests were performed with a NEWARE battery tester at a voltage window of 0.013.0 V for both samples. Cyclic voltammetry (CV; 0.013 V, 0.5 mV s1) was performed with an electrochemical workstation (CHI 660C). Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) measurements were carried out in the frequency range from 10 kHz to 0.1 Hz at open circuit potential with an alternating current (ac) perturbation of 10 mV with the help of an impedance spectrum analyzer (Solatron, SI 1255B Impedance/grain-phase analyzer and computer software ZView).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION The morphology of the as-prepared samples formed by reacting Co(NO3)2 with GOs through the solvothermal process as described above were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and TEM (see Supporting Information Figure S1ac). The images revealed that the hybrids consisted of highly dense nanowall arrays attached onto two-dimensional nanosheets. The thicknesses of the nanowalls were 35 nm. The X-ray diraction (XRD) pattern of the sample (see Supporting Information Figure S1d) indicated that the nanowalls were R-Co(OH)2. The reduction of the GOs to rGO was conrmed by Raman spectroscopy (see Supporting Information Figure S1e) and electrical conductivity measurements. The Raman spectroscopy results showed the increase in the intensity ratio of the D band (located at 1350 cm1) to the G band (located at 1580 cm1), e.g., ID/IG, from 0.9 to 1.2 upon the reduction of GOs through the solvothermal process, which is consistent with previous reports.30 Meanwhile, the four-point-probe measurements showed that the GO lms on glass were insulating, and the
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Figure 1. FESEM and TEM images of Co3O4/rGO obtained at dierent annealing temperatures in air: (a,d) 250 C for 30 min; (b,e) 350 C for 30 min; (c,f) 450 C for 30 min; red circles indicate pores.

Figure 2. XRD patterns of Co3O4/rGO obtained by thermal pyrolysis of the precursors at 250, 350, and 450 C for 30 min in air.

as-prepared nanohybrids depicted a high electrical conductivity of 200 S m1. Here, it was found that the phase and morphology of the Co compound were dependent on the presence of GOs. Without the addition of GOs during the solvethermal process, the resulting precipitates were agglomerated Co3O4 nanoparticles with an average diameter of 100 nm (see Supporting Information Figure S2a-c). The R-Co(OH)2 attached rGO samples were annealed to convert them into Co oxide/rGO hybrids. It was found that the phases, grain sizes, and surface area were highly dependent on the annealing temperatures and gas environments. For example, annealing the R-Co(OH)2/rGO samples in air at dierent temperatures did not signicantly change the morphology of the nanowalls (see Figure 1ac). However, it was noted that there were pores generated in the annealed nanowalls, especially for samples annealed at higher temperatures (see Figure 1b,c). The pore sizes in the annealed nanowalls were larger for samples annealed at higher temperatures as illustrated by the TEM images (see Figure 1df). The pore size increased from 35 nm for samples annealed at 250 C to 1020 nm for samples annealed at 450 C. The phase of the nanowalls was face-centered-cubic (fcc) Co3O4 (JCPDS781970) as conrmed by the selected-area electron diraction (SAED) pattern and high-resolution TEM (HRTEM) image (see Supporting Information Figure S3). Furthermore, nitrogen adsorption/desorption isotherms for these porous Co3O4/rGO hybrids showed type H3 hysteresis loops (see Supporting Information Figure S4), which are commonly observed for plate-like particles

with slit-shaped pores.8 The specic surface areas were calculated using the BET method and were determined to be 172.8, 133.6, and 72.3 m2 g1 for Co3O4/rGO samples after annealing at 250, 350, and 450 C (named as Co3O4/rGO-250, Co3O4/rGO-350, and Co3O4/rGO-450), respectively. Figure 2 shows the XRD patterns of the Co3O4/rGO samples. The XRD results of the as-prepared nanohybrids conrmed the formation of the fcc Co3O4 phase (JCPDS78-1970), which was consistent with the HRTEM and SAED results. No impurity phase was detected. By analyzing the peak width of the XRD patterns using Scherrers equation, the crystallites of Co3O4/ rGO-250, Co3O4/rGO-350, and Co3O4/rGO-450 were estimated to be 4.2, 6.3, and 9.7 nm, respectively, which were consistent with the TEM and HRTEM observations (see Figure 1). The broad hump at 2 of about 25 in the XRD patterns was attributed to the glass sample holder. The phase of the as-prepared hybrid samples was found to be able to be controlled by changing the annealing gas environment from air to Ar. FESEM and TEM images revealed that the products showed nanowall shape with porous structures after annealing in Ar at dierent temperatures (see Figure 3). The SAED and HRTEM analysis (see Supporting Information Figure S5) revealed that the nanowalls were polycrystalline fcc CoO phase (JCPDS71-1178). The nitrogen adsorption/desorption isotherms (see Supporting Information Figure S6) for these porous CoO/rGO hybrids were also tested, and the specic surface areas were determined by BET method to be 84.1, 103.3, and 61.5 m2 g1 for samples obtained at 250 C, 350 and 450 C (named as CoO/rGO-250, CoO/rGO350 and CoO/rGO-450), respectively. The corresponding XRD patterns of these samples (see Figure 4) indicated no detectable impurity phase except for the fcc CoO phase (JCPDS71-1178). The crystal sizes of CoO were estimated from the peak width using Scherrers equation to be 3.3, 5.1, and 9.1 nm for CoO/rGO-250, CoO/rGO-350, and CoO/rGO-450, respectively. These two types of porous Co oxide nanowall hybrids were tested as anodes for Li-ion batteries, and a series of electrochemical measurements were carried out based on the half cell conguration.19,26 The CV of Co3O4/rGO electrodes at a scan rate of 0.5 mV s1 for the rst, second, and third cycles were carried out (see Supporting Information Figure S7). All Co3O4/rGO electrodes
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Figure 3. FESEM and TEM images of CoO/rGO obtained at dierent annealing temperature in Ar: (a,d) 250 C for 30 min; (b,e) 350 C for 30 min, and (c,f) 450 C for 30 min; red circles indicate pores.

Figure 4. XRD patterns of CoO/rGO obtained by thermal pyrolysis of the precursor at 250, 350, and 450 C for 30 min in Ar.

depicted similar CV proles. During the rst cycle, two cathodic peaks were observed at 1.30 and 0.69 V, corresponding to the electrochemical lithiation processes of Co3O4.31 During the second cycle, the main reduction peak was shifted to 1.15 V, which involved the conversion reaction: Co3O4 8Li 8e T 3Co 4Li2O.32 The charge/discharge voltage proles of Co3O4/rGO hybrids at a current density of 180 mA/g (0.2 C) were also examined (see Supporting Information Figure S7). It was observed that there were two voltage plateaus at 0.75 and 1.12 V for the rst discharge step, corresponding to reactions between Li with Co3O4.33 There was no obvious voltage plateau observed for rGO.34 The rst discharge and charge capacities were 1236 mAh g1 and 707 mAh g1, which gave a low Coulombic eciency of 57.2%. The low Coulombic eciency was mainly attributed to the incomplete conversion reaction and irreversible lithium loss due to the formation of solid electrolyte interface (SEI) lm during the rst cycle. This resulted in the low Coulombic eciency for the rst cycle. The electrode depicted discharge and charge capacities of 750 mAh g1 and 693 mAh g1 during the second cycle, which resulted in a higher Coulombic eciency of 92.4%. The Coulombic eciency increased and retained at 98% in the subsequent cycles (see Supporting Information Figure S8). The discharge/charge cycling performance of porous Co3O4 nanowall/rGO hybrids were evaluated (see Figure 5a) up to 100 cycles in the voltage range of 0.013.0 V and at a current rate of 180 mAh g1 (0.2 C). The Co3O4/rGO-250 electrode showed a poor cycling stability. Its discharge capacity increased during the

rst 10 cycles due to an activation process and then decreased to 320 mAh g1 after 100 cycles. The Co3O4/rGO-350 electrode showed much improved charge/discharge capacities and cycling stabilities. It depicted a discharge capacity of 884 mAh g1 during the second cycle, which slightly reduced and maintained at 673 mAh g1during the 100th cycle. Such performance was better than those reported for Co3O4.31,3540 The Co3O4/rGO-450 sample showed a discharge capacity of 802 mAh/g during the second cycle, which decreased to 582 mAh g1 during the 100th cycle. The lower discharge capacity of Co3O4/rGO-450 as compared to that of Co3O4/rGO-350 is possibly due to the reduced specic surface area as a result of the collapsing of the pores upon annealing at high temperature. We also prepared pure Co3O4 nanoparticles (see Supporting Information Figure S2), which depicted a low capacity of 266 mAh g1 during the 100th cycle (see Supporting Information Figure S9). A similar series of electrochemical measurements were also carried out for the CoO/rGO hybrids. The CVs of the CoO/ rGO electrodes were also obtained at a scan rate of 0.5 mV s1 for the rst, second, and third cycles (see Supporting Information Figure S10). For the rst cycle curve, there were three peaks at 1.42, 0.86, and 0.42 V. The chargedischarge voltage proles of the CoO/rGO electrodes (see Supporting Information Figure S8) were evaluated for the rst two cycles at a current rate of 150 mA g1 (0.2 C, where 1 C is dened as 716 mA g1). For example, the insertion process in CoO/rGO-350 led to a discharge specic capacity of 1200 mAh g1 with a low Coulombic eciency of 70.6% for the rst cycle, while the discharge capacity decreased to 863 mAh g1 with a corresponding charge capacity of 803 mAh g1, leading to a much higher Coulombic eciency of 93.1%. The long characteristic plateau around 0.73 V observed in the rst discharge curves was associated with the conversion reaction: CoO 2Li 2e T Li2O Co.33 Here, the capacity of CoO/rGO electrode is higher than the theoretical value, which is possibly due to the special porous structure and synergistic eect between the exible rGO and CoO nanowall arrays as reported.40 Figure 5b shows the charge/discharge cycling performance between 0.01 and 3.0 V at 0.2 C (150 mA g1) for the CoO/rGO samples. The CoO/rGO-250 electrode delivered a discharge capacity of 914 mAh g1 during the second cycle. However, the
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Figure 5. (a) Cycling performance of Co3O4/rGO electrodes at a current density of 180 mA g1 (0.2 C) within a voltage window of 0.013.0 V. Here, 1 C is equal to 891 mA g1. (b) Cycling performance of CoO/rGO electrodes at a current density of 150 mA g1 (0.2 C) within a voltage window of 0.013.0 V. Here, 1 C is equal to 716 mA g1.

Figure 6. Nyquist plots of Co3O4/rGO and CoO/rGO electrodes obtained by applying a sine wave with amplitude of 10.0 mV over the frequency range 10 kHz to 0.1 Hz.

discharge capacity gradually decreased to 380 mAh g1 after 100 cycles. Both CoO/rGO-350 and CoO/rGO-450 electrodes showed good capacity retention upon cycling. It was found that CoO/rGO350 sample depicted higher discharge capacities, which increased gradually during the rst 20 cycles to 998 mAh g1and decreased slightly to 732 mAh g1 during the 100th cycle. The CoO/rGO450 sample delivered a high capacity of 890 mAh g1 during the second cycle. However, the capacity faded gradually to 663 mAh g1 during the 100th cycle. Here, the calculated weight percentage of Co3O4 in Co3O4/rGO is 89.3%, and that of CoO in CoO/ rGO is 85.8% (see Supporting Information Figure S11). EIS was used to understand the relevance of morphology and surface area of the synthesized CoO/rGO and Co3O4/rGO with the electrochemical performance in terms of the total internal electrochemical impedances of a cell. The characteristic impedance curves (Nyquist plots) for the CoO/rGO and Co3O4/ rGO samples annealed at dierent temperatures are shown in Figure 6. In impedance spectroscopy, high frequency activity is attributed to charge transfer phenomenon, whereas the low frequency region of the spectrum is ascribed to the mass transfer process.41,42 The Nyquist plots for the samples annealed at dierent temperatures for the two hybrid systems were similar except for the diameters of the semicircles, and thereby the associated impedance values. This means that the diameter of the semicircle is strongly dependent on the synthesis temperature, surface area, and grain/grain interfaces, which may have a direct impact on the Li storage performance.4348 In order to quantify these respective values, a theoretical model consisting of resistance, capacitance, Warburg impedance, and intercalation impedance was used to t the experimental data (see Supporting Information, Figure S12 and Table 1).41,42 The surface lm and

inter grain/grain boundary resistance are important factors that determine the electrochemical performance of a given sample. The thickness of surface lm over active electrode aects the performance of a given electrode, since a very thick layer may prevent the eective charge transfer and diusion process from/ or to the electrolyte/electrode. Meanwhile, the number of grains and thereby grain boundaries give rise to the high charge transfer impedance and thereby a continuous capacity fading upon a long-term cycling.44,45 The impedance curves obtained for the CoO/rGO and Co3O4/rGO samples were identical. However, a variation in the diameter of the semicircles with annealing temperatures was observed. This was attributed to the dierences in the surface area and grain size/grain boundaries interfaces in the various samples. From the analysis of the data obtained for the hybrid composites (see Supporting Information, Figure S9 and Table 1), it was noted that several factors (surface area, grainsize, interparticle/grain interfaces) were competing with each other, which might aect the Li-ion storage performance. For example, the 250 C annealed samples (CoO/rGO-250 or Co3O4/rGO-250) showed larger semicircles, which was attributed to their higher surface resistance or interparticle impedance within the electrode. The diameter of the semicircles reduced signicantly for the samples annealed at 450 C (CoO/rGO-450 or Co3O4/ rGO-450), which indicated that the surface lm and intergrain boundary were smaller. Higher annealing temperature led to larger grain size, which corresponded to longer diusion length and degraded Li-ion storage performance (see Figure 5). The sample annealed at 350 C was found to be appropriate in terms of the internal impedance of the cell, with the smallest semicircle indicating the lowest surface lm resistance and optimized grain/graingrain interface to achieve optimum Li-ion storage
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The Journal of Physical Chemistry C performance. The above results indicated that the Li storage performance of the samples depended on the surface area, the crystalinity, and the size of the grain/particles, which compete to each other. For samples annealed at a low temperature such as 250 C, their specic surface area is high but their crystalinity is poor. In this case, the diusion of the Li in the grain is not ecient. For samples annealed at a high temperature such as 450 C, their crystalinity is good, but their specic surface area is low. Thus, the Li intercalation site/area is limited. Only for samples annealed at 350 C do they possess large specic surface area and the good crystalinity, which demonstrate better Li storage performance.


CONCLUSION We have developed a facile chemical approach to produce nanohybrids with porous Co oxides nanowall arrays onto rGO sheets. The composition, grain size, and surface area of Co oxide/ rGO hybrids were tunable through controlled annealing processes, e.g., under dierent gas environments and dierent temperatures. These Co oxide/rGO nanohybrids showed structural-processdependent performances as anode materials for Li-ion batteries. Both Co3O4/rGO and CoO/rGO hybrid samples annealed at 350 C showed optimized Li storage performance with high discharge capacities and good cycling stabilities. This study indicated that tuning the detailed structural properties of attractive rGO/MO hybrids should be considered of utmost importance in order to render their advanced performances as Li-ion battery electrodes. ASSOCIATED CONTENT
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Supporting Information. Additional gures and table as described in the text. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

Corresponding Author

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors gratefully acknowledge AcRF Tier 1 RG 31/08 of MOE (Singapore), NRF2009EWT-RP001-026 (Singapore), A*STAR SERC Grant 1021700144 and AcRF Tier 2 (MOE 2010-T2-1-017) from MOE (Singapore). H.Z. thanks the support of AcRF Tier 2 (ARC 10/10, No. MOE2010-T2-1-060) from MOE (Singapore) and the New Initiative fund FY 2010 (M58120031) from NTU, Singapore. REFERENCES
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