For some time now, a nanomaterial known as MXene has been touted as a faster-charging alternative to the lithium used in batteries. It could soon be an even more viable choice, as scientists have devised a method of making it last much longer.
Currently, one of MXene’s big drawbacks is the fact that it rusts quite easily in humid environments, inhibiting its electrical conductivity. If that rust can’t be removed, then MXene batteries can’t be refurbished and put back into use.
And unfortunately, removing the rust has proven to be quite difficult, as MXene membranes are considerably thinner than the width of a human hair. Adding chemical coatings to the material does help keep rust from forming, although doing so also limits MXene’s uses.
All of that having been said, a team at Australia’s RMIT University has now discovered that sound waves seem to do the rust-removal trick.
More specifically, the scientists found that when an oxidized (rusted) MXene membrane was exposed to high-frequency sounds waves, that membrane vibrated in such a manner that all the rust fell off of it within approximately one minute. Once that rust was gone, the MXene was restored to close to its original state.
It is now hoped that if MXene batteries do become widely used, they could periodically receive the sound-wave treatment, keeping them out of the landfill.
“Materials used in electronics, including batteries, generally suffer deterioration after two or three years of use due to rust forming,” said Assoc. Prof. Amgad Rezk, one of the lead senior researchers. “With our method, we can potentially extend the lifetime of battery components by up to three times.”
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.
Source: RMIT University