Materials

Experimental "Faraday fabric" blocks almost all electromagnetic waves

Experimental "Faraday fabric" ...
Cotton and linen dipped in MXene can block 99.9 percent of electromagnetic waves
Cotton and linen dipped in MXene can block 99.9 percent of electromagnetic waves
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Cotton and linen dipped in MXene can block 99.9 percent of electromagnetic waves
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Cotton and linen dipped in MXene can block 99.9 percent of electromagnetic waves
The team says the new MXene fabric still worked well after two years of storage under normal conditions
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The team says the new MXene fabric still worked well after two years of storage under normal conditions

Researchers at Drexel University have created “Faraday fabrics” that can block almost all electromagnetic waves. The key ingredient is a 2D material called MXene, and the development could help protect wearables from interference and people from potentially dangerous radiation.

Electromagnetic waves have proven incredibly useful for modern technology – but between radio, TV, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular phone networks and other devices, the airwaves are getting clogged up. Interference can make these important connections unstable and slow, and interrupt the function of electronic devices.

As such, vital components within devices are often wrapped in shielding materials like copper foil. The problem is, these can add bulk to the overall device, and since they reflect the waves the overall noise is still there.

Enter MXenes, a class of conductive, two-dimensional materials that are gaining interest for their promise in making sprayable antennas, conductive clays, and faster-charging battery electrodes. A few months ago, the Drexel team described how one particular MXene, titanium carbonitride, made an excellent EM-shielding material. Not only is it incredibly thin – just a few atoms thick – but it actually absorbs signals rather than reflecting them, so it cleans up the airwaves a bit in the process.

In the new study, the researchers found a new application for the MXene shielding – fabrics that block electromagnetic waves. They dipped samples of cotton and linen into an MXene solution and found that the end result could block more than 99.9 percent of signals.

The team says the new MXene fabric still worked well after two years of storage under normal conditions
The team says the new MXene fabric still worked well after two years of storage under normal conditions

On closer inspection, it seems that flakes of the material stick well to the fabric fibers, thanks to their electric charge. This produces a durable coating that doesn’t need other pre- or post-treatment processes like other conductive materials, the team says.

In other tests, the fabrics proved their staying power. After being stored at regular conditions for two years, the samples only had relatively small drops in shielding effectiveness of between eight and 13 percent.

“This work provides a much-improved alternative to current EMI shielding textiles,” says Simge Uzun, an author of the study. “Not only do MXene-coated fabrics exceed the performance of commercial metal-coated fabrics, but they can be sustainably produced by coating form aqueous solution without extra processing or chemical additives.”

The team says that these shielding fabrics could be used to protect wearable electronics from interference without adding too much bulk to them. They could also be used to make protective suits for people who need to venture into places with dangerously high electromagnetic fields or those that might be exposed to strong microwave radiation, which has been named as the likely culprit for Havana syndrome.

The research was published in the journal Carbon. The team demonstrates the material in the video below.

MXene-Coated Fabrics for EMI Shielding

Source: Drexel University

15 comments
Jay Gatto
So, it stops phones from working. Yeah, cool!
sidmehta
Great. Where can one buy this fabric?
paul314
Can these fabrics be washed?
Winterbiker
I could see these fabrics appearing in a future TV crime show, where the criminal (or good guy) does not want his phone to be "triangulated". It may also make an appearance with the "tin hat" crowd, what better way to shield your head from dangerous EM radiation?
Daishi
@sidmehta. This is just an improvement to a common product really. You can buy EMF/EMF or Fairaday cage fabrics on Amazon for about $20/meter. You can buy adhesive tape and paint that does the same thing too. The material in the article is 99.9% effective but there are inexpensive products on the market now that are still over 99.5% effective.
zr2s10
Was thinking this might be helpful with the embassy issues, like you mentioned at the end. Maybe line the buildings walls and curtains with it. The use cellular repeaters etc, so you can get in the signals you want, and block out those that you don't. I hope they figure out who's been doing that.
Dan_Linder
A new line of clothing to get out there. Or better yet, an additive to put into your wash cycle at home to make all your clothing EM radiation reducing.
Username
So this new fabric was developed at least two years ago. If it's so light and efficient why are they not a layer in spacesuits or part of the wall lining on the iss?
Catweazle
Wow, a more stylish hat material than tin foil!
tony
With U.V and radiation being one of the leading causes of cancer, when can we buy clothing made from this fabric?