RMIT team restores rusted electrical components with soundwaves


RMIT University engineers are investigating a combination of sound waves and the nanomaterial MXene that could triple the lifespan of mobile phone batteries.

MXenes are a class of two-dimensional materials that are compared to graphene. They are highly conductive and are of interest in novel batteries, but suffer from rust issues.

Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering Leslie Yeo, who is the lead senior researcher, explained in a statement that, “Unlike graphene, MXenes are highly tailorable and open up a whole range of possible technological applications in the future.”

“To overcome this challenge, we discovered that sound waves at a certain frequency remove rust from MXene, restoring it to close to its original state.”

The team’s research, published in Nature Communications, presents a way to remove rust from MXene-based batteries to restore electrical and electrochemical performance, compared to current methods of combating rust by chemical coatings. 

“In this work, we show that exposing an oxidised MXene film to high-frequency vibrations for just a minute removes the rust on the film,” said PhD candidate Hossein Alijani, a co-lead author on the paper.

The team is currently seeking to work with industrial partners on integrating a resulting acoustics device into current manufacturing systems and processes, as well as investigating its use in removing oxide layers from other materials, targeting sensing and renewable energy applications. 

Associate Professor Amgad Rezk, another researcher, believes the newfound approach to restore materials could be a boon for the circular economy, and could potentially “extend the lifetime of battery components by up to three times.”

Their paper, “Recovery of oxidized two-dimensional MXenes through high frequency nanoscale electromechanical vibration”, can be accessed here.  

Picture: Alijani and Rezk with the device (supplied)

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