Apr 18, 2019 08:57 AM EDT
The researchers from Trinity College and Drexel University located in Ireland have created an ink for an inkjet printer called MXene, which is from a highly conductive type of two-dimensional material. Recent studies that was published in Nature Communications suggests that the ink can be used to make flexible energy storage components and it is as easy as just printing them. This includes supercapacitors in any shape or size.
These inks that are conductive have been used for almost 10 years and they are included in a multi-hundred, million-dollar market that is expected to grow in the next 10 years. The ink is already used to make the radiofrequency identification tags that are used in circuit boards in portable gadgets and electronics, its lines car windows and radio antennas, it is used in highway toll transponders and it aids defrosting.
However, these inks need to be more conductive and they need to be more easily applied to a range of different surfaces before the researchers can see its broader use in the technological world.
Yury Gogotsi, Ph.D., Distinguished University and Bach professor in Drexel's College of Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who studies and is an expert on the applications of new materials in technology, say that the ink created in Drexel's Nanomaterials Institute is a significant and vital advancement on both of these fronts.
"So far only limited success has been achieved with conductive inks in both fine-resolution printing and high charge storage devices," Gogotsi said. "But our findings show that all-MXene printed micro-supercapacitors, made with an advanced inkjet printer, are an order of magnitude greater than existing energy storage devices made from other conductive inks."
While researchers are focusing on looking for ways to make inks from new and more conductive materials such as graphene, gallium and nanoparticle, the issue that they are facing are still connected to them incorporating the materials seamlessly into the manufacturing process. Most of the inks can't be used in just a one-step manufacturing process, according to Babak Anasori, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in Drexel's department of Materials Science and Engineering and co-author of the MXene ink research.
"For most other nano inks, an additive is required to hold the particles together and allow for high-quality printing. Because of this, after printing, an additional step is required-usually a thermal or chemical treatment-to remove that additive," Anasori said. "For MXene printing, we only use MXene in water or MXene in an organic solution to make the ink. This means it can dry without any additional steps."
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