Taking 2D Materials to the MAX


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A class of atomically thin 2D compounds, known as MXenes, have a unique combination of properties that are useful for electronic and sensing applications.

Discovered by researchers at Drexel University as electrodes for energy applications, MXenes have become a research focus for KAUST. Husam Alshareef and his team specialize in creating nanomaterials for electronic and energy applications. They turn them into devices, such as supercapacitors, batteries and sensors. The chemically active surface and highly conducting core of MXenes make them an ideal candidate material for the group’s cutting-edge materials research.

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MXene membranes, like these fabricated in Alshareef's lab, are used for energy storage, sensing and osmotic power generation.

MXenes typically consist of a core of titanium and carbon atoms, just a few atoms thick. This metallic material (a carbide or nitride) has electrical conductivity comparable to a copper wire. The upper and lower surface of the MXene is covered with metal-oxygen (e.g. Ti-O) and metal-hydroxyl (e.g. Ti-OH) bonds, which are chemically and electrochemically active. “This combination of properties makes MXenes unique,” Alshareef explains.

“Researchers at KAUST have made groundbreaking contributions to applications of MXenes in electronic devices and sensors,” says Yury Gogotsi, a professor from Drexel University in the United States, one of the discoverers of MXenes. “They have moved them from the material stage to the device stage thanks to their experience with electronics. This is very important and may be a defining moment in the practical implementation of MXenes in industry.”

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MXenes can be used to create better sensors, touch screens, photodetectors and composites.

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