Drexel Engineers Improve Strength, Flexibility of Atom-Thick Films - a conductive polymer MXene nanocomposite

Conductive MXene-polymer nanocomposite material, made by researchers in Drexel's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is flexible enough to fold into an airplane and could find uses in wearable energy storage devices. Making a paper airplane in school used to mean trouble. Today it signals a promising discovery in materials science research that could help next-generation technology –like wearable energy storage devices- get off the ground. Researchers at Drexel University and Dalian University of Technology in China have chemically engineered a new, electrically conductive nanomaterial that is flexible enough to fold, but strong enough to support many times its own weight. They believe it can be used to improve electrical energy storage, water filtration and radiofrequency shielding in technology from portable electronics to coaxial cables.

Finding or making a thin material that is useful for holding and disbursing an electric charge and can be contorted into a variety of shapes, is a rarity in the field of materials science. Tensile strength -the strength of the material when it is stretched and compressive strength –its ability to support weight- are valuable characteristics for these materials because, at just a few atoms thick, their utility figures almost entirely on their physical versatility.

Drexel Engineers Improve Strength, Flexibility of Atom-Thick Films

“Take the electrode of the small lithium-ion battery that powers your watch, for example, ideally the conductive material in that electrode would be very small –so you don’t have a bulky watch strapped to your wrist- and hold enough energy to run your watch for a long period of time,” said Michel Barsoum, PhD, Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering. “But what if we wanted to make the watch’s wristband into the battery? Then we’d still want to use a conductive material that is very thin and can store energy, but it would also need to be flexible enough to bend around your wrist. As you can see, just by changing one physical property of the material –flexibility or tensile strength- we open a new world of possibilities.”

This flexible new material, which the group has identified as a conductive polymer nanocomposite, is the latest expression of the ongoing research in Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering on a family of composite two-dimensional materials called MXenes.

This development was facilitated by collaboration between research groups of Yury Gogotsi, PhD, Distinguished University and Trustee Chair professor in the College of Engineering at Drexel, and Jieshan Qiu, vice dean for research of the School of Chemical Engineering at Dalian University of Technology in China. Zheng Ling, a doctoral student from Dalian, spent a year at Drexel, spearheading the research that led to the first MXene-polymer composites. The researchat Drexel was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Drexel team has been diligently examining MXenes like a paleontologist carefully brushing away sediment to unearth a scientific treasure. Since inventing the layered carbide material in 2011 the engineers are finding ways to take advantage of its chemical and physical makeup to create conductive materials with a variety of other useful properties.  

One of the most successful ways they’ve developed to help MXenes express their array of abilities is a process, called intercalation, which involves adding various chemical compounds in a liquid form. This allows the molecules to settle between the layers of the MXene and, in doing so, alter its physical and chemical properties. Some of the first, and most impressive of their findings, showed that MXenes have a great potential for energy storage.

A scanning electron microscopic image of MXene-polymer nanocomposite shows the polyvinyl alcohol filling in the layers of MXene to give the material its unique properties.To produce the flexible conductive polymer nanocomposite, the researchers intercalated the titanium carbide MXene, with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) –a polymer widely used as the paper adhesive known as school or Elmer’s glue, and often found in the recipes for colloids such as hair gel and silly putty. They also intercalated with a polymer called PDDA (polydiallyldimethylammonium chloride) commonly used as a coagulant in water purification systems.

“The uniqueness of MXenes comes from the fact that their surface is full of functional groups, such as hydroxyl, leading to a tight bonding between the MXene flakes and polymer molecules, while preserving the metallic conductivity of nanometer-thin carbide layers.  This leads to a nanocomposite with a unique combination of properties,” Gogotsi said.

The results of both sets of MXene testing were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the paper Flexible and conductive MXene films and nanocomposites with high capacitance, the researchers report that the material exhibits increased ability to store charge over the original MXene; and 300-400 percent improvement in strength.  

“We have shown that the volumetric capacitance of an MXene-polymer nanocomposite can be much higher compared to conventional carbon-based electrodes or even graphene,” said Chang Ren, Gogotsi’s doctoral student at Drexel. “When mixing MXene with PVA containing some electrolyte salt, the polymer plays the role of electrolyte, but it also improves the capacitance because it slightly enlarges the interlayer space between MXene flakes, allowing ions to penetrate deep into the electrode; ions also stay trapped near the MXene flakes by the polymer. With these conductive electrodes and no liquid electrolyte, we can eventually eliminate metal current collectors and make lighter and thinner supercapacitors.”   Though just a few atoms thick, the MXene-polymer nanocomposite material shows exceptional strength -especially when rolled into a tube.

Though just a few atoms thick, the MXene-polymer nanocomposite material shows exceptional strength -especially when rolled into a tube.

The testing also revealed hydrophilic properties of the nanocomposite, which means that it could have uses in water treatment systems, such as membrane for water purification or desalinization, because it remains stable in water without breaking up or dissolving.

In addition, because the material is extremely flexible, it can be rolled into a tube, which early tests have indicated only serves to increase its mechanical strength. These characteristics mark the trail heads of a variety of paths for research on this nanocomposite material for applications from flexible armor to aerospace components. The next step for the group will be to examine how varying ratios of MXene and polymer will affect the properties of the resulting nanocomposite and also exploring other MXenes and stronger and tougher polymers for structural applications.
 Source: www.drexel.edu


Flexible and conductive MXene films and nanocomposites with high capacitance

altTwo-dimensional transition metal carbides (MXenes) offer a quite unique combination of excellent mechanical properties, hydrophilic surfaces, and metallic conductivity.

In this first report on MXene composites of any kind, researchers show that adding polymer binders/spacers between atomically thin MXenes layers or reinforcing polymers with MXenes results in composite films that have excellent flexibility, good tensile and compressive strengths, and electrical conductivity that can be adjusted over a wide range.

Обновлено 06.12.2014 14:43  

News from MRC.ORG.UA

Twenty Third Annual Conference - YUCOMAT 2022 Twelfth World Round Table Conference on Sintering - XII WRTCS 2022 Herceg Novi, August 29 – September 2, 2022


Our collaborators and partners  presented our joint research at the Yucomat conference - at Symposium on Biomaterials and two collaborative posters at Conference Poster Session.

MRC team visited 2nd international MXene conference "MXenes: Addressing Global Challenges with Innovation"at Drexel University, USA on Aug. 1-3, 2022

second MXene COnference 2022, Drexel University, USA

MRC team members Dr. Oleksiy Gogotsi, Veronika Zahorodna, Dr. Iryna Roslyk visited MXene Confrence 2022.  This 2nd international MXene conference at Drexel University, August 1-3, 2022, put major MXene discoveries, including their record-breaking electrical conductivity, electromagnetic interference shielding capability, electrochemical capacitance, light-to-heat conversion, and other properties, into perspective.

Launching HORIZON-MSCA-2021-SE-01 MX-MAP Project: Towards MXenes biomedical applications by high-dimensional immune MAPping

MX-MAP project Meeting during the MXene international conference held in Drexel University on Aug. 3,  2022, and discussing the roadmap for launching MX-MAP research project on MXenes for medical applications.

H2020-MSCA-RISE NANO2DAY research project, last updates


Researchers from University of Latvia and Materials Research Center, Ukraine are visiting Drexel University due to Horizon-2020-MSCA-RISE NANO2DAY research project.

MXene-Assisted Ablation of Cells with a Pulsed Near-Infrared Laser

Development of tailored MXene PTT treatment targeting tumor cells. We demonstrate both low toxicity and good biocompatibility of this MXene in vitro, as well as a favorable safety profile based on the experiments in vivo.Presenting our recent collaborative research paper on  MXene use for PPT anticancer therapy, the biocompatibility of MXenes in vitro and in vivo studies:

Sergiy Kyrylenko, Oleksiy Gogotsi, Ivan Baginskiy, Vitalii Balitskyi, Veronika Zahorodna, Yevheniia Husak, Ilya Yanko, Mykolay Pernakov, Anton Roshchupkin, Mykola Lyndin, Bernhard B. Singer, Volodymyr Buranych, Alexander Pogrebnjak, Oksana Sulaieva, Oleksandr Solodovnyk, Yury Gogotsi, Maksym Pogorielov, MXene-Assisted Ablation of Cells with a Pulsed Near-Infrared Laser. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2022, 14, 25, 28683–28696, https://doi.org/10.1021/acsami.2c08678

MXenes—A New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials: Structure, Properties and Potential Applications

Presenting our collaborative paper on recen advances in MXene research and their potential applications:

Pogorielov M, Smyrnova K, Kyrylenko S, Gogotsi O, Zahorodna V, Pogrebnjak A. MXenes—A New Class of Two-Dimensional Materials: Structure, Properties and Potential Applications. Nanomaterials. 2021; 11(12):3412. https://doi.org/10.3390/nano11123412

MXene nanoflakes decorating ZnO tetrapods for enhanced performance of skin-attachable stretchable enzymatic electrochemical glucose sensor

Presenting our joint research paper supported by CANBIOSE research project: and published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics: MXene nanoflakes decorating ZnO tetrapods for enhanced performance of skin-attachable stretchable enzymatic electrochemical glucose sensor

If you want to help and support the purchase of aid consignments, shipping cost to Ukraine and delivery within Ukraine to the places in nee, please donate

Our volunteersBig thanks to all our friends, partners, volunteers for help and their tireless work! We continue to help our defenders and deliver military equipment, humanitarian aid, tactical medicine and special medical supplies to units of Ukrainian Army, territorial defense and hospitals on the front line!

Delivering help to Ukraine from the USA, Europe, and the rest of the world!

3.jpg - 197.81 KbOur organization in Kyiv, Materials Research Center, is well aware of the needs in Ukraine now. Together with our partners, fellow Ukrainian scientists, we have organized a warehouse in Lviv, where we collect cargos and distribute them throughout Ukraine, with detailed reports confirming the delivery to the final destination, including photos of the transfer. We have transportation that can pick cargo in Poland and deliver it through a green corridor for humanitarian cargos at the Polish-Ukrainian border. 
We are ready to respond promptly, as required by the situation in Ukraine. If there are individuals, foundations or volunteer organizations willing to send help to Ukraine from Europe or the United States, we are ready to accept it in our warehouses, make collection or individual parties according to your request and pass them on to those in need. All humanitarian aid, first aid, and protective gear will be delivered to the final destination.
Please contact Dr. Oleksiy Gogotsi, MRC Director: Tel / Viber / WhatsApp / Telegram / Signal: + 380 63 233 2443, Cell phone in the USA: +1 808 203 8092, e-mail: helpukraine@mrc.org.ua
Being currently on a business trip in Philadelphia, the United States, we can meet with you in person, if needed.

MRC Ukraine Foundation. Providing of military first aid medicine for the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine


MRC Ukraine Foundation. Providing of military first aid medicine for the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine via volunteers. Specialized military first aid medical supplies were provided by the Special Forces Foundation, Green Berets Humanitarian Fund, USA

Delivering military first aid medicine from the Special Forces Foundation Green Beret Humanitarian Fund (GBHF) from the USA to territorial defences, army unit and 2 hospitals


Delivering military first aid medicine from the Special Forces Foundation Green Beret Humanitarian Fund (GBHF) from the USA via the Kernel Volunteer Group for the Territorial Defense of Kyiv, Poltava, Vinnytsia, Voznesensk, as well as some military unit in Kyiv and Ternopil. Also part of medical supplies is transferred to hospitals in Krasnopillia in Sumy region and Voznesensk in Mykolaiv region


MRC Ukraine Foundation. Transfer of military first aid medicine at our hub in Lviv


MRC Ukraine Foundation. Transfer of military first aid medicine at our hub in Lviv from the American Green Beret Humanitarian Fund for some military units.

BSU and LU parthers secondment visits to MRC an seminar discussion of ongoing research works under the NANO2DAY project at Materials Research Center, February 2022


During the secondment visits of project partners from BSU and LU to MRC research works were performed and a seminar discussion of ongoing research works and obtained results was held under the NANO2DAY project.

Registration is now open for the upcoming MXene Certificate Course, February 7-11, 2022 from Professor Yury Gogotsi and his team, Drexel University, USA

altRegistration is now open for the upcoming MXene Certificate Course, February 7-11, 2022! This virtual certificate course will teach best practices for the synthesis (2 days), characterization (2 days), and electrochemical measurements of MXenes with a new lecture in the biomedical applications of MXenes (you may choose electrochemical measurements OR biomedical applications - 1 day).

Visiting resracher S. Stankevich performed secondment to MRC due to NANO2DAY project

altStanislav Stankevich, research assistant from Latvias University, Riga, Latvia, performed secondment visit to Materials Research Center, Kyiv, Ukraine, due to the MSCA RISE research project NANO2DAY working on project tasks related to MXene based composites. Dates of performed secondment visit November 17-December 16, 2021.