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They can store electricity better than almost any material on Earth, block an onslaught of electromagnetic interference, and sniff out the faintest trace of toxins in the air, but MXenes, the latest super-material-in-waiting, have trouble with water. Like a rake left out in the rain, they oxidize, and quickly, when stored or mixed in water. It's an issue of consequence, considering some of the most promising applications require combining MXene flakes in water to make things like conductive ink and spray coatings. A breakthrough, recently published by Drexel University researchers in a German chemistry journal, showing that a common water-softening additive can help to preserve the flakes in water, could be the key to its future viability.
These atomically thin, layered materials, which were discovered at Drexel in 2011, owe their exceptional abilities, in part, to their surface chemistry and physical structure. But the source of MXenes' unique properties is also likely their weakness when it comes to oxidation, according to the research published by a team of researchers from Drexel's College of Engineering.
Oxidation - MXenes - Problem - Varun - Natu
"Oxidation of MXenes has always been a problem," according to Varun Natu, a doctoral researcher in the College and a co-author of the paper "Edge Capping of 2-D-MXene Sheets with Polyanionic Salts to Mitigate Oxidation in Aqueous Colloidal Suspensions," which was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie. "The most common titanium carbide MXenes show signs of oxidation when stored for a week or so in water; other chemistries oxidize within days."
Oxygen is a problem, not only because it reacts with MXenes—like it would a rusty rake—but it also changes their surface chemistry and morphology, which ultimately diminishes their performance when it comes to tasks like passing and storing electricity.
Professor - Michel - Barsoum - Group - Department
Distinguished Professor Michel Barsoum's group in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, which was part of the team that...
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