Layering as many layers as possible with butter in between is the key to a perfect croissant. Similarly, a promising new substance for new applications consists of several incredibly thin layers of metals, to which researchers can add various ions for different purposes. This greatly increases the potential for these materials to be used in future high-tech electronics or energy storage.
What is MXen?
Called MXenes and pronounced "max-eens," it took as much labor as a thin croissant from a formerly French bakery to produce.
However, a new discovery by researchers at the University of Chicago shows how these MXens can be produced much more quickly and simply, with less harmful consequences.
The discovery, published March 23 in the journal Science, is expected to inspire new discoveries and pave the way for MXens to be used in ordinary electronics and gadgets.
When MXens were first described in 2011, they caused great excitement among scientists. When a metal such as gold or titanium is shaved to produce atomic-thin layers, it typically stops behaving like a metal. But MXenes are able to retain the metal's unique properties, such as electrical conductivity, thanks to extraordinarily strong chemical interactions.
They're also highly adaptable: "You can put ions between layers, for example, to store energy," said Di Wang, a chemistry graduate student who co-wrote the paper with postdoctoral researcher Chenkun Zhou.
Because of all these benefits, MXens can be incredibly useful for building new devices, such as those that store power or prevent electromagnetic interference.
But the only method we know of to produce MXen required a series of difficult chemical engineering procedures, including heating the combination to 3.000°F and then dipping it in hydrofluoric acid.
According to Dmitri Talapin, Ernest DeWitt Burton Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago, co-author at Argonne National Laboratory and co-author of the paper, "If you're doing a few grams for experiments in the lab, that's fine, but if you want to do it in large quantities for use in commercial products, that's fine." will become a major abrasive waste disposal problem.”
The group applied chemical ideas, specifically "atomic economics," aimed at reducing the amount of atoms wasted during a reaction, to create a more efficient and less dangerous process.
UChicago researchers have uncovered new chemical processes that enable the production of MXen from simple and affordable precursors without the need for hydrofluoric acid. This requires only one step; or combining various chemicals with the metal you want to use for the layers and heating it to 1.700°F. Wang continued: “Then you open it and there they are.”
The simpler, less hazardous process opens up new opportunities for researchers to develop and research new variations of MXen for a variety of uses, such as various metal alloys or various ion flavors. The technology has been tested with the metals titanium and zirconium, but the researchers believe it could be applied to a wide variety of additional combinations.
Wang said: “These new MXens are also aesthetically pleasing. They look like flowers, which can be better for reactions because ions and molecules can easily pass between metal layers thanks to the exposed edges.
Günceleme: 24/03/2023 13:50