Drip: MXene in complex 3D device architectures – News
July 13, 2022
Although only a few atoms thick, MXene is powerful. This class of two-dimensional (2D) single-layer nanomaterials exhibit desirable properties such as excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, heat resistance, and high specific surface area. These features promise to revolutionize high-performance electronic devices and energy storage systems.
In order to optimize the properties of MXene, researchers must be able to arrange 2D flakes of it into three-dimensional (3D) configurations. Such 3D architectures from MXene can increase the energy storage density of lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors, as well as provide performance improvements to existing devices.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of reliable manufacturing methods available today to build MXene in 3D setups. With the support of a grant from the Office of Scientific Research of the United States Air Force and Clarkson Aerospace, Rahul Panat, associate professor of mechanical engineering and associate director of the Manufacturing Futures Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, seeks to change that. .
The manufacturing process will incorporate Aerosol Jet 3D printing, a nanoscale additive manufacturing technology. Using the principles of droplet dynamics, MXene will be dispersed in a liquid and deposited, layer by layer, in stacks of 3D structures to form electrochemical and physical sensors.
“These three-dimensional architectures are useful because they have the potential to ‘bring together’ enough nanoscale materials for practical use in electronic devices,” Panat explained.
“If I create an electrode from the three-dimensional architectures, I can greatly increase its performance because the chemical and/or biochemical reactions would have a higher surface area and 3D volume for operation.”
The research team will test and evaluate the performance of these devices based on their sensitivity, reproducibility and repeatability of measurements.
Another aspect of the project looks to the next generation of the American workforce. To prepare a cohort of workers skilled in cutting-edge micro and nanoelectronics technologies, Panat’s team recruits U.S. Army cadets pursuing undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, and the ‘University of Pittsburgh. Additional trainees include a Ph.D. student and postdoctoral fellow at the Panat research laboratory.
Interns will learn 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing methods, as well as materials characterization techniques such as electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, and statistical data analysis.
Once trained in the range of 3D printing techniques, cadets from the US Air Force, Army and Navy will be able to repair mechanical components and electronic circuits directly in the field. This will reduce reliance on outsourcing and supply chains that may be severely disrupted by global events. This component of the grant aims to strengthen national defense readiness.
Although the research is fundamental in nature, Panat anticipates that it will begin to have an impact on the industry in five to seven years. As technology develops, new high-performance electronic devices will appear.
The grant is $456,000 over two years.