How can we use MXene-Metal composites?

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Write in the journal Composite materials, a team of scientists from Southwest Jiaotong University and China Building Materials Academy reviewed recent developments in the preparation and development of MXene-metal composites. The research has implications for several industries and future research on these composite materials.

Study: Preparations and Applications of MXene-Metal Composites: A Review. Image Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com

MXenes

Research on advanced materials is a cornerstone of today’s technological innovation. In the automotive and aerospace industries, emphasis has been placed on the development of new classes of materials that confer advantages in terms of weight savings, energy efficiency, superior mechanical properties and tribological performance. To meet the specific requirements of high-performance components, materials must possess properties such as high specific strength, stiffness and elastic modulus.

Two-dimensional materials have emerged as attractive candidates for high-performance applications, displaying excellent electrical and mechanical properties. Two-dimensional materials differ in structure from 3D and 1D crystalline nanomaterials, possessing a layered structure. Strong covalent bonds and van der Waals interactions are the main characteristics of these materials. 2D materials have distinctive interface, elasticity, surface and fracture characteristics.

Among the 2D structured materials explored to meet the demands of high performance components, MXenes have emerged as a new class of materials. They have been widely considered in recent research. MXenes are 2D transition elements such as nitrides, carbides, and carbonitrides. MXenes are produced by selective etching of their precursor materials in the MAX phase.

Producing MXenes can be difficult, with harsh solvents such as hydrofluoric acid inducing defects in materials and presenting safety issues, and processes can be laborious, time-consuming, complex and expensive. Due to the need to improve MXenes, in recent years the focus of research has shifted to composite manufacturing.

Several studies have reported MXene composites incorporating materials such as polymers, graphene, carbon nanomaterials, and metal oxides. However, there has been a lack of research on MXene-metal composites so far.

The study

The paper considered MXene-metal composites to provide relevant information for the further development of this class of MXene-based materials. The development, advancements, synthesis techniques, improvement techniques, obstacles and future opportunities have been thoroughly discussed in the research. A comprehensive review of eighty-six articles relevant to the research area was conducted by the authors.

Properties of MXene-metal composites

These MXene composite materials have several properties that make them advantageous for advanced materials research to meet the demands of high performance components. Properties of MXene-metal composites include superior thermal stability, wettability, mechanical performance and microstructural properties. In addition, they have good electrochemical properties. It is possible to make composites with several metals and even bimetallic nanoparticles.

For example, MXene-aluminum composites exhibit excellent mechanical behavior and robust frictional resistance. The incorporation of aluminum can produce MXene composites with good hardness, strength and fracture toughness. MXene-metal composites also possess superior energy density and electrical conductivity, making them ideal candidates for batteries, improving cycle stability and performance.

Applications of MXene-metal composites

The research brought to light several applications that are currently being researched. MXene-metal composites are being evaluated in multiple industries, and studies have indicated several promising research directions.

For example, research into the use of these composite MXenes in energy storage devices, such as supercapacitors and devices that exploit catalytic behavior. They have found potential applications as electromagnetic absorption materials for applications such as wireless devices and radar network devices. EMI shielding and photocatalytic applications were explored.

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MXene-metal composites have been researched for use in bifunctional nanosensors to improve the safety of food and agricultural products. Electrodes have been developed for biosensors, with research reporting the successful detection of diabetes mellitus. Research on functional nanocomposites has opened up the possibility of using these composite materials in structural alloys. MXene-silver composites have found application as battery electrodes and display superior electrocatalytic activity for use with alkaline fuels.

Additionally, research on these composite materials has provided opportunities for environmental remediation. They can be incorporated into electrochemical sensors for the detection of environmental contaminants such as pesticides and toxic industrial by-products.

Future research opportunities

The paper identified some future research opportunities that will help realize the industrial scale use of MXene-metal composites in many sectors. Currently, few metals have been studied as composites with MXenes. To realize the potential of the different composites, research should focus on synthesizing these materials using existing routes. In addition, research into new methods is necessary in the field.

There has been little research on the development of anti-corrosion materials based on MXene-metal composites. Additionally, the use of these materials in biosensors poses challenges due to factors such as surface termination of fluorene in MXene materials. The authors said removing these functional groups could help develop more efficient biosensors for use in the medical field, which exploits the properties of MXene-metal composites.

In short, the study provided a comprehensive review of current research progress on these MXene metal composite materials. Although challenges exist in research, there are many opportunities for the application of this class of advanced materials across multiple industries.

Further reading

Khan, MU et al. (2022) Preparations and Applications of MXene-Metal Composites: A Review [online] Coatings 12(4) 516 | mdpi.com. Available at:

https://www.mdpi.com/2079-6412/12/4/516

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