Scalable, Highly Conductive, and Micropatternable MXene Films for Enhanced Electromagnetic Interference Shielding

Jason Lipton, a Ph.D. candidate under the guidance of Taylor, was lead author. Elisa Riedo (chemical and biomolecular engineering)  and researchers from Drexel University and the Brookhaven National Laboratory also participated.

The proliferation and miniaturization of electronics in devices, wearables medical implants and other applications has made technologies for blocking electromagnetic interference (EMI) especially important, while making their implementation more challenging. While EMI can cause disruptions in communication in critical applications, resulting in potentially disastrous consequences, traditional EMI shields require large thicknesses to be effective, hampering design flexibility. 

One solution resides in MXenes, a family of 2D transition metal carbides, nitrides, and carbonitrides with potential for blocking EMI demonstrate high conductivity and excellent EMI shielding properties. The key to the commercialization of these materials is industry-scale manufacturing.

A multi-institution research team led by Andre ́ D. Taylor, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering demonstrated a novel approach to MXene fabrication that could lead to methods for at-scale production of MXene freestanding films: drop-casting onto pre-patterned hydrophobic substrates. Their method led to a 38% enhancement of EMI shielding efficiency over conventional methods. The work suggests that micropatterned MXene films, prepared using a method that is scalable and allows for high throughput, can be readily used in EMI shielding, energy storage, and optoelectronics applications.

The team cast aqueous dispersions of MXene nanosheets (with the formula Ti3C2Tx) on hydrophobic polystyrene substrates and dried them. After drying, the resulting free-standing films could be easily peeled off, a method demonstrating a variety of advantages over the conventional vacuum-assisted filtration method with regards to time efficiency, operation simplicity, and surface smoothness. 

The drop-casting method allows for modulation of micrometer-scale 3D patterns on the film surface by utilizing pre-patterned substrates (such as a vinyl record, retroreflective packaging, and retroreflective tape). 

The research, “Scalable, Highly Conductive, and Micropatternable MXene Films for Enhanced Electromagnetic Interference Shielding,” is published in the first-anniversary issue of the Cell Press publication Matter.