Drexel University engineers have developed a new fabric coated with something called MXene. The new MXene coating is a two-dimensional material that is conductive and has proven highly effective in blocking electromagnetic waves and could possibly block harmful radiation. Researchers view the new coating as a significant development in efforts to weave more technological capability into clothing and other accessories.
Demand for fabrics that can block electromagnetic waves is increasing as manufacturers incorporate sensing and communication technologies into smart fabrics. Researchers believe defense organizations could also deploy fabrics coated with MXene to shield devices from tracing and hacking while protecting people from intense microwave radiation.
Wearable devices could also need shielding from electromagnetic interference of the sort that’s routinely produced by mobile devices like smartphones. With the new coating, this type of shielding can be integrated as part of clothing. Researcher leader Yuri Gogotsi said that scientists have known MXene can block electromagnetic interference better than other materials for a while. The discovery shows it can adhere to fabrics and maintain its unique shielding capability.
The researcher and his team have produced and studied MXene going back nearly a decade. He says MXenes can be stably made as a spray coating, ink, or paint, allowing them to be applied to textiles while adding minimal weight and taking up no additional space. Research shows that if regular cotton or linen fabric is dip-coated in an MXene solution, it can block electromagnetic interference at greater than 99.9 percent effectiveness.
MXene flakes suspended in solution naturally adhere to fibers in conventional cotton and linen fabrics due to their electrical charge. Researchers report that charge creates a thorough and durable coating needing no pre- or post-treatment processes to produce most commercial conductive yarns and fabrics. Fabrics coated using this process only lost roughly 10 percent of their shielding efficiency after being stored under normal conditions for two years.