Writing in the journal Composites, a team of scientists from Southwest Jiaotong University and the China Building Materials Academy has reviewed recent developments in preparing and developing MXene-metal composites. The research has implications for several industries and future research into these composite materials.
Study: Preparations and Applications of MXene–Metal Composites: A Review. Image Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com
Advanced materials research is a cornerstone of current technological innovation. In the automotive and aerospace industries, there has been a significant focus on developing new classes of materials that confer advantages in weight-saving, energy efficiency, superior mechanical properties, and tribological performance. To meet the specific demands 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 crystalline and 1D nanomaterials, possessing a layered structure. Strong covalent bonds and van der Waals interactions are key features of these materials. 2D materials possess distinctive interfacial, elastic, surface, and fracture characteristics.
Amongst 2D-structured materials explored to meet high-performance component demands, MXenes have emerged as a novel class of materials. They have been given significant consideration 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 challenging, with harsh solvents such as hydrofluoric acid inducing defects into the materials and presenting safety concerns, and processes can be labor-intensive, time-consuming, complex, and costly. Due to the need to improve MXenes, in recent years a research focus has shifted to composite fabrication.
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 into MXene-metal composites thus far.
The paper has considered MXene-metal composites to provide pertinent information for the further development of this class of MXene-based materials. Development, progress, synthesis techniques, enhancement techniques, and obstacles and future opportunities have been discussed in-depth in the research. A comprehensive review of eighty-six papers relevant to the research area has been conducted by the authors.
Properties of MXene-metal Composites
These composite MXene materials possess 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 microstructure properties. Moreover, they possess good electrochemical properties. It is possible to manufacture composites with several metals and even bimetallic nanoparticles.
For instance, MXene-aluminum composites display excellent mechanical behavior and robust friction resistance. Incorporating 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 cycling stability and performance.
Applications of MXene-metal Composites
The research has highlighted several applications which are currently being researched. MXene-metal composites are being evaluated in multiple industries, and studies have indicated several promising research directions.
For instance, research into utilizing these composite MXenes in energy storage devices, 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 have been 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 into functional nanocomposites has opened the possibility of using these composite materials in structural alloys. MXene-silver composites have found application as electrodes for batteries and display superior electrocatalytic activity for use with alkali fuels.
Furthermore, research into 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 has identified some future research opportunities that will help to realize the industrial-scale use of MXene-metal composites in numerous sectors. Currently, few metals have been investigated as composites with MXenes. To realize the potential of different composites, research should focus on the synthesis of these materials using existing routes. Additionally, research into novel methods is needed in the field.
There has been limited research into developing anti-corrosion materials based on MXene-metal composites. Furthermore, challenges exist with using these materials in biosensors due to factors such as the surface termination of fluorene in MXene materials. The authors have stated that removing these functional groups could help to develop more efficient biosensors for use in the medical field, which exploits the properties of MXene-metal composites.
In brief, the study has provided a comprehensive review of the current progress in research into these metallic MXene composite materials. Whilst challenges exist in research, there are many opportunities for the application of this class of advanced materials in multiple industries.
Khan, M.U et al. (2022) Preparations and Applications of MXene–Metal Composites: A Review [online] Coatings 12(4) 516 | mdpi.com. Available at: