Imagine that every time you tapped out a message on your smartphone it would create electric power instead of sapping your phone’s battery. That scenario could one day be a reality, according to Vadym Mochalin, associate professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T. His research on MXenes was published in the February 2018 issue of the journal Nano Energy.
Discovered in 2011, MXenes make up one of the largest families of two-dimensional materials. And because they have high electrical conductivity and can take up electrons when in contact with polymers and other materials, they could be used to harvest wasted frictional energy — like the energy from muscle contractions while typing or walking.
This unusual combination of properties makes MXenes useful as components for triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), which turn muscle movements into electric power. The research suggests these advanced materials could be incorporated into mobile phones, handheld electronics, wearable devices and laptops, ultimately making them self-powering. They could also be used in biology, medicine, electronics and water purification.