Drexel to Host Nation's First International Conference on MXene Research

MXene layers

Drexel's College of Engineering will play virtual host to the first international conference on MXene research to be held in the U.S.

Drexel University will host more than 2,000 researchers from around the world for a virtual conference, Aug. 3-7, to share their work and learn about the latest discoveries related to MXene, an extraordinarily versatile family of two-dimensional materials first discovered and studied at Drexel in 2011. Held on the ninth anniversary of their discovery, the MXene Conference 2020 is the fourth international gathering focused exclusively on these materials and the first to be held in the United States.

“This discovery, made at Drexel, is fascinating people all over the world,” said Michel Barsoum, PhD, Distinguished professor in the College, who along with Yury Gogotsi, PhD, Distinguished University and Bach professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering, discovered MXenes in 2010. “In just under 10 years — and with minimal funding compared to research on similar materials, like graphene — MXene research has grown rapidly in the U.S. and abroad, with thousands of researchers attracted to the field.”

“The work that started right here at Drexel has led to major discoveries about MXenes around the world,” Gogotsi said. “Among them are impactful breakthroughs that show their record-breaking electrical conductivity, electromagnetic interference shielding capability, electrochemical capacitance, light-to-heat conversion and other properties. We are very proud of this discovery and honored to be hosting this international MXene research conference.”

The materials were first reported in the journal Advanced Materials in August of 2011, after the  process of using an acid etching liquid to chemically hollow out a layered material, called MAX phases — which had been studied extensively in Barsoum’s research group since 1996, when he uncovered their extraordinary properties — yielded a new type of chemically stable, layered, two-dimensional material.  

As Barsoum and Gogotsi continued to examine the material — dubbed “MXene,” an amalgamation of its MAX phase precursor and chemical nomenclature and pronounced “Maxine” — they discovered that using different kinds of MAX phases and different chemical etchants produced an entire family of materials, wherein each member had unique properties.

Early studies reported that the material possessed exceptional conductivity, which at the time made it an excellent candidate for use in energy storage devices like supercapacitors and batteries.

Today, more than 30 different types of chemically distinct MXene materials and more than a dozen solid solutions of MXene have been isolated and are being studied. Researchers have revealed that, in addition to their conductivity, MXenes are also physically durable and structurally versatile. In addition to energy storage, they are now being developed for a wide range of applications, including electromagnetic interference shielding, bio filtration, telecommunications, chemical sensing and functional fabrics.

“An extraordinary volume of work has been produced around these materials in just shy of a decade,” Gogotsi said. “We are seeing papers about MXenes among the most-cited research in materials science research and I believe we have only glimpsed the potential of these supermaterials.”

At Drexel, these discoveries have led to a great deal of research from the College of Engineering's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the formation of several MXene-related research groups, including the flagship A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute, and the construction of new research facilities. In addition, the College has produced dozens of doctoral graduates who are continuing their MXene research as faculty members at universities across the U.S. and abroad.

Many of these Drexel-alumni researchers, including Michael Naguib, PhD, an assistant professor at Tulane University, who, as a doctoral student at the University, helped make the discovery and was first author on the initial paper about MXenes, will participate in the conference as key-note speakers and presenters.

Presentations focusing on new behaviors and applications of the materials will be given by leading MXene researchers from across the nation, as well as universities in England, France, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia. And virtual poster presentations will be available on the conference website.

Subjects will include new discoveries, such as titanium carbonitride MXene’s extraordinary ability to absorb electromagnetic waves — which was recently reported in Science — as well as reviewing the state of the field and outlining directions for future research.

“Dozens of MXenes, which have been predicted computationally, are still to be made experimentally and new properties and applications of this large family of nanomaterials still need to be explored,” Gogotsi said. “The field has come a long way in a short time, but there is still much to learn and exciting discoveries to be made.”

In the last year, researchers have made significant advances in the mass production of these materials, which can now be produced in ink, spray coating and clay forms. As these discoveries improve the materials’ commercial viability several companies are already exploring integrating them into their electronics products. At pre-conference courses participants got an inside look at the MXene production process and demonstrations on how the materials are being integrated into everything from circuitry to energy storage devices and fabrics. The courses also presented the latest techniques for the characterization of MXenes.

“This is a unique opportunity for representatives from industry, venture capitalists and funding agencies to get a look inside our lab and to see, first-hand, the exciting properties of these materials that our researchers have been revealing for the last nine years,” said Conference Manager Danielle Kopicko, associate director of the Drexel Nanomaterials Institute.

While the conference had to be converted to an online event due to the pandemic, more than 2,000 people have registered and are expected to participate throughout the five-day event. The 2020 conference is the first held on U.S. soil after China and Germany played host to the initial gatherings.

For more information about the MXene 2020 Conference at Drexel visit: https://mxeneconference.coe.drexel.edu/

Drexel students and faculty can join the conference free by registering here.