Using sunlight to the max

Membranes of MXene have potential for water purification. Materials called transition-metal carbides have remarkable properties that open new possibilities in water desalination and wastewater treatment.

illustration: Using sunlight to the max

A KAUST team has found compounds of transition metals and carbon, known as a MXenes but pronounced “maxenes,” can efficiently evaporate water using power supplied by the sun. Renyuan Li, a PhD student at KAUST, has investigated a MXene in which titanium and carbon combine with the formula Ti3C2.

“This is a very exciting material,” says Peng Wang, Li’s supervisor at the KAUST Water Desalination and Reuse Center. Wang explains his excitement comes from their finding that Ti3C2 can trap the energy of sunlight to purify water by evaporation with an energy efficiency that is state of the art. He says this clearly justifies more research toward practical applications.

Other researchers had explored the ability of MXenes to act as electromagnetic shielding materials due to their ability to absorb wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation beyond the visible range. So the KAUST discovery began with a simple question: “We decided to investigate, what is the interaction with this MXene and sunlight?” With Wang’s group focused on desalination technology, using […]

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