Containing electromagnetic pollution with MXene

1 min read

A group of researchers at Drexel University and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology is working on cleaning up electromagnetic interference by blocking out and containing the emissions with a thin coating of a nanomaterial called MXene.

"As technology evolves and electronics become lighter, faster and smaller, their electromagnetic interference increases dramatically," said Babak Anasori, a research assistant professor in the A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute. "Internal electromagnetic noise coming from different electronic parts can have a serious effect on everyday devices leading to malfunctions and overall degradation of the device."

Typically, the interior of a device is encased in a cage of a conductive metal like copper or aluminium, or a coating of metallic ink. While this is effective, it adds weight and is considered a restriction on how small the device can be designed.

The team’s findings suggest that titanium carbide, one of about 20 two-dimensional materials in the MXene family, can be more effective at blocking and containing electromagnetic interference, with the added benefit of being extremely thin and easily applied.

The team tested samples of MXene films ranging in thickness from 2 to 45µm. It is said to have found that the thinnest film of MXene shields as effectively as copper and aluminium foils. By increasing thickness of the MXene to 8µm, it claims to achieve 99.9999% blockage of radiation with frequencies covering the range from cell phones to radars.

The key to MXene's performance is said to lie in its high electrical conductivity and two-dimensional structure. According to the researchers, when electromagnetic waves come in contact with MXene, some are immediately reflected from its surface, while others pass through the surface but lose energy amidst the material's atomically thin layers. The lower energy electromagnetic waves are eventually reflected back and forth off the internal layers until they're completely absorbed in the structure.

One other result is that its shielding works just as well when combined with a polymer to make a composite coating. And, on weight basis, it even outperforms pure copper.