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Drexel Researchers Discover Two-Dimensional Material Capable of Blocking Electromagnetic Interference

Researchers from Drexel University have discovered a two-dimensional material that has the ability to block electromagnetic interference.

Drexel University

The material comes from a two-dimensional family known as MXenes. These materials were first produced back in 2011 at Drexel University. Since then, researchers have discovered remarkable properties in many of these two-dimensional materials — and this new discovery could prove to be one of the most exciting yet.

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The material is known as titanium carbonitride. While other MXenes have properties such as molecular filtration abilities, noteworthy strength, and high electrical conductivity, titanium carbonitride has a trait that’s a bit different. It has the ability to both block and absorb electromagnetic interference, and can do so far more effectively than any other known material.

“This discovery breaks all the barriers that existed in the electromagnetic shielding field. It not only reveals a shielding material that works better than copper, but it also shows an exciting, new physics emerging, as we see discrete two-dimensional materials interact with electromagnetic radiation in a different way than bulk metals.”

Yury Gogotsi, PhD, Distinguished University and Bach professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering

Electromagnetic interference is something most people who regularly use technology at some point have experienced. Generally noticed as a slight buzzing noise from a speaker or microphone, this little irritant can cause big issues for engineers. Electromagnetic interference can negatively impact antennas and circuitry, resulting in reduced electrical performance. This can lead to slow data exchange rates, and in some cases interrupt the function of electronic devices.

Normally engineers deal with this issue by relying on shielding materials, which can contain and deflect electromagnetic interference. The shielding material is used to cover the circuit board of a device with a copper cage, or taking the individual components and wrapping them in foil shielding. While these methods work well enough, they, unfortunately, both add weight and bulk to devices.

MXene materials, by comparison, are much thinner and lighter than those currently used to prevent electromagnetic interference. A film made up of titanium carbonitride material could potentially block electromagnetic interference anywhere from 3-5 times more effectively than copper foil at a similar thickness level.

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The Drexel team intends to continue their research on electromagnetic interference, and how MXene materials could provide a more effective shield for electronic devices.

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