Apr 18, 2019 09:25 AM EDT
Researchers from Ireland universities developed a MXene-based ink for an inkjet printer that has the potential to print energy storage components.
The team from Drexel University and Trinity College published their recent findings in Nature Communications.
MXenes belong to the largest ceramic-based families of two-dimensional (2D) materials. These carbide and nitride molecular sheets have good conductivity that allow them be the next-energy energy storage applications.
Conductive inks is predicted to exponentially grow rapidly and these are currently used in circuit boards in portable electronics, radiofrequency identification tags used in highway toll transponders, acts as embedded radio antennas in car windows, and to help in defrosting. Despite its presence for nearly a decade, there is a need to make conductive inks more conductive for easier application to various surfaces.
"Yury Gogotsi, Ph.D., Distinguished University and Bach professor in Drexel's College of Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who studies the applications of new materials in technology, suggests that the ink created in Drexel's Nanomaterials Institute is a significant advancement on both of these fronts," according to Nano Magazine.
"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."
Researches are finding new methods in producing inks from more conductive materials. The problem involves on how to integrate these seamlessly into the manufacturing processes. Some of these materials include gallium, graphene, and nanoparticle silver. "Most of these inks can't be used in a one-step 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," according to Phys.
"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."
One of the advantages is that the concentration of the solvent and MXene in the ink can be adjusted for compatibility to different kinds of commercial printers.
"If we really want to take advantage of any technology at a large scale and have it ready for public use, it has to become very simple and done in one step," Anasori said. "An inkjet printer can be found in just about every house, so we knew if we could make the proper ink, it would be feasible that anyone could make future electronics and devices."
The team composed of researchers from Drexel and Trinity College subjected the MXene ink in different printouts such as a micro-supercapacitor and a simple circuit on different substrates like paper, plastic, and glass. The results showed that the thickness in printing lines is consistent. In addition, they found that the capacity of the ink to allow electric current to pass through is correlated with the thickness. It was further emphasized in Nano Magazine that "the printouts maintained their superior electric conductivity, which is the highest among all carbon-based conductive inks, including carbon nanotubes and graphene."
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