Drexel University scholars, alongside peers from Ireland-based Trinity College, just developed a new type of energy-storing ink that is, per the researchers, “an order of magnitude” more efficient at conducting energy than currently existing inks.
According to a post on Drexel’s blog, conductive inks — currently used to manufacture circuitboards or car antennas — are not new. The novelty here is the new product’s efficiency and practicality.
The ink is made out of a kind of MXene (pronounced like Rep. Maxine Waters’ first name), a family of carbon-based, two-dimensional layered materials, first engineered at Drexel in 2011.
“So far only limited success has been achieved with conductive inks in both fine-resolution printing and high charge storage devices,” said Yury Gogotsi, a professor at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel’s College of Engineering. “But our findings show that all-MXene printed micro-supercapacitors, made with an advanced inkjet printer, are an order of magnitude greater than existing energy storage devices made from other conductive inks.”
It’s often hard to understand these kind of scientific breakthroughs in the abstract, but this video makes it pretty clear: Watch a barely visible sliver of inkjet-printed material conduct the energy from a 9V battery to a small fan:
Efficiency of the material aside, the recent developments also offer a practical innovation, said Babak Anasori, a research assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and coauthor of the research project.
“Compared to conventional manufacturing protocols, direct ink printing techniques, such as inkjet printing and extrusion printing, allow digital and additive patterning, customization, reduction in material waste, scalability and rapid production,” Anasori said. “Now that we have produced a MXene ink that can be applied via this technique, we’re looking at a world of new opportunities to use it.”