A treated mesophase carbon fiber is disclosed having a high density of exposed edges on the fiber surface, and a method of making such a treated fiber. A carbon electrode is also described which is constructed from such treated mesophase carbon fibers. The resulting electrode, formed from such treated flexible carbon fibers, is characterized by a high density of active sites formed from such exposed edges, low corrosion, and good mechanical strength, and may be fabricated into various shapes. The treated mesophase carbon fibers of the invention are formed by first loading the surface of the mesophase carbon fiber with catalytic metal particles to form catalytic etch sites on a hard carbon shell of the fiber. The carbon fiber is then subject to an etch step wherein portions of the hard carbon shell or skin are selectively removed adjacent the catalytic metal particles adhering to the carbon shell. This exposes the underlying radial edges of the graphite-like layers within the carbon shell of the mesophase carbon fiber, which exposed radial edges then act as active sites of a carbon electrode subsequently formed from the treated mesophase carbon fibers.
The invention described herein arose in the course of, or under, Contract No. DE-AC03-SF00098 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Government may have rights to the invention.