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A durable and conductive material of two-dimensional inorganic compounds in thin atomic layers.


A class of two-dimensional inorganic compounds, MXenes consist of thin atomic layers where the A layer of a MAX phase has been removed by etching. The materials are based on transition metal carbides, nitrides or carbonitrides. MXenes are durable and conductive materials based on MAX phases, which are said to possess some of the best of characteristics of metals and ceramics. Use of MXenes could one day improve energy storage systems, specifically lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries. Other applications include computing, communications and health care. Supercapacitor electrodes and EMI shielding, as well as spray on antennas are some use cases.

The first paper on MAX phases was published in 1996 by Michel Barsoum.1 In 2011, the Layered Solids Group (LSG) in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University was the first to synthesize MXenes using selective etching, according to the LSG. Barsoum, been working on MXene materials as part of LSG at Drexel University. Drexel University and the Materials Research Center in Ukraine have found a way to produce more MXenes, which are hard to produce. In 2011, Drexel began making MXenes in small quantities. The typical production quantity is one gram or less. The material, which resembles a powder, starts with a piece of ceramic. Then, the material is mixed with hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acid. This in turn etches away parts of the material, creating thin flakes of MXenes.

Because the MXene is on a micron scale, some researchers have worked to enlarge it to a macro scale for ease of use. The Institute of Solid State Physics (ISSP) within the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science has developed a macroscopic MXene using a wet-chemical method.

Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences found a way to use MXenes flakes to create a hydrogel that can ultrasonically charge bioelectronic implants like pacemakers, insulin pumps, and hearing implants.

Finished MXenes often are in powder or flake form.

1Barsoum, M.W. & El-Raghy, T., Synthesis and Characterization of a Remarkable Ceramic: Ti3SiC2. J. Amer. Cer. Soc. 79 (7), 1953-1956 (1996).