A research team at the University of Chicago has discovered a new way of making the fabrication of MXene (pronounced max-ene) materials much more efficient, paving the way for their use in high-tech electronics or energy storage methods. 

These materials are made from extremely thin layers of metal, between which scientists can slip different ions for various purposes.

The majority of metals, when shaved, stop reacting like a metal. MXenes, in contrast, have unusually strong chemical bonds that allow them to retain the special abilities of metal, like conducting electricity strongly, while also being easily customisable. 

“You can put ions between the layers to use them to store energy, for example,” said chemistry graduate student Di Wang, one of the researchers involved. 

All of these advantages could make MXenes extremely useful for building new devices — for example, to store electricity or to block electromagnetic wave interference.

Until now, these...