Smartphones have become really important in our lives. However, the fact that they run on batteries renders them momentarily useless when those batteries run out. This means that people spend a lot of valuable time charging their phones. But then, nanomaterials researchers at Drexel University have managed to come up with a solution that would ensure that we never have to spend ages charging our phones anymore. These researchers created a material called MXene, which is a two-dimensional material consisting of a hydrogel and an oxide metal. This material is structurally dense enough to shield radiation and filter water, and it is also highly conductive. This makes it a good option for battery membranes.
This is due to the chemical makeup of MXene, which optimizes the flow of electrodes though it. Batteries hold ions in pots called “redox active sites” to hold a charge, and the number of ports a battery contains is directly proportional to the amount of charge a battery can hold. But unlike today’s battery membranes, which have limited paths for ions to get to ports, MXene creates multiple paths for ions to travel through. Also, MXene’s naturally high conductivity helps move the ions along quickly, which increases the effective recharge rate.
The end result might be a battery that takes just tens of milliseconds to fully recharge, instead of minutes or hours. Yuri Gogotsi, a materials science and engineering professor, states that MXene’s application in the real world could lead to better laptop batteries and electric car batteries.
“If we start using low-dimensional and electronically conducting materials as battery electrodes, we can make batteries work much faster than today. Eventually, appreciation of this fact will lead us to car, laptop and cell phone batteries capable of charging at much higher rates – seconds or minutes rather than hours.”
MXene is not yet commercially viable. Mr. Gogotsi says it would take at least three years before mass-manufactured products like cell phone batteries get this tech. However, the research team is committed to exploring new applications in the near term.