A group of researchers at Drexel University and the Korea Institute of Science & Technology is working on containing electromagnetic pollution from electric current in everyday obejcts via a thin nanomaterial coating.

Tagged as MXene, the nanomaterial coating aims to contain and protect devices from electric interference, which has increased dramatically in the past years due to the boost in gadget production. The study, published in the journal Science, says that electromagnetic noise could actually have a devastating effect on other gadgets such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc. It may even lead to malfunctions and degradation.

Babak Anasori, PhD, co-author of the study, explains that in order to protect devices, a thick metal coating made of aluminum or copper is needed. However, this is pretty much impractical when applied to everyday, handheld devices like mobile phones.

"In general, adequate shielding can be achieved by using thick metals, however, material consumption and weight leave them at a disadvantage for use in aerospace and telecommunication applications," Anasori said via Science Daily.

This is where MXene comes into play. Because of its lightweight characteristic, the thin protective coating is an easy solution to protect gadgets from electromagnetic interference. What makes MXene's thinness possible is its two-dimentional structure and high electrical conductivity, which immediately reflects electromagnetic waves upon contact.

"To have all these electronic components working without interfering with each other, we need shields that are thin, light and easy to apply to devices of different shapes and sizes. We believe MXenes are going to be the next generation of shielding materials for portable, flexible and wearable electronics," said lead author Yury Gogotsi, PhD.

The researchers says that MXene's thinnest film, which is slightly thinner than a strand of hair, delivers the same protective performance such as protective coatings made from aluminum and copper. Also, just by increasing its thickness to 8 micrometers, MXene could block out radiation at 99.999 percent accuracy.

Gogotsi said that apart from MXene's thinnes and lightness, the nanomaterial protective coating also has a small density, high flexibility and requires minimal processing. This could, in turn, revolutionize protective coatings used in wearable devices and other electric gadgets.