Nanomaterials for Energy

Image credit: Babak Anasori

Image credit: Babak Anasori

Drexel has established itself as a world leader in materials for electrochemical capacitors (also known as supercapacitors or ultracapacitors). Drexel researchers continue to search for new materials that will increase the amount of energy that supercapacitors store. In 2011, Professors Michel Barsoum and Yury Gogotsi discovered atomically thin two-dimensional materials (similar to graphene) that combine good electrical conductivity with hydrophilic surfaces (good wetting) and named them MXenes.

MXenes are transition metal carbides and carbonitrides, created by selectively removing single-atom layers of aluminum from layered ternary carbides known as MAX phases. Through this selective etching and exfoliation process, the carbide layers are separated into MXene sheets just a few atoms thick. MXenes can accommodate various ions and molecules between their layers by a process known as intercalation, which is sometimes a necessary step in order to exploit the materials’ unique properties. For example, placing lithium ions between MXene sheets has been shown to render them promising for anodes of lithium-ion batteries. (This work was featured in Nature Communications.) See the NCD for MXene here.

MXenes are just one of the major areas of research in nanomaterials for energy at DNI; other collaborations continue to grow, including efforts in flexible and wearable energy storage devices with Professor Genevieve Dion’s Shima Seiki Haute Technology Laboratory.