Researchers at Drexel University and Dalian University of Technology in China have chemically engineered a new, electrically conductive nanomaterial that is flexible enough to fold, but strong enough to support many times its own weight. They believe it can be used to improve electrical energy storage, water filtration, and radio frequency shielding in technology from portable electronics to coaxial cables.
This flexible new material, which is a conductive polymer nanocomposite, is one of a family of composite two-dimensional materials called MXenes. Since inventing the layered carbide material in 2011, the engineers are finding ways to take advantage of its chemical and physical makeup to create conductive materials with a variety of other useful properties.
Because the material is extremely flexible, it can be rolled into a tube, which early tests have indicated only serves to increase its mechanical strength. These characteristics enable applications from flexible armor to aerospace components.