Surface Modification of MXenes: A Pathway to Improve MXene Electrode Performance in Electrochemical Energy Storage Devices

  • Bilal Ahmed

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The recent discovery of layered transition metal carbides (MXenes) is one of the most important developments in two-dimensional (2D) materials. Preliminary theoretical and experimental studies suggest a wide range of potential applications for MXenes. The MXenes are prepared by chemically etching ‘A’-layer element from layered ternary metal carbides, nitrides and carbonitrides (MAX phases) through aqueous acid treatment, which results in various surface terminations such as hydroxyl, oxygen or fluorine. It has been found that surface terminations play a critical role in defining MXene properties and affects MXene performance in different applications such as electrochemical energy storage, electromagnetic interference shielding, water purification, sensors and catalysis. Also, the electronic, thermoelectric, structural, plasmonic and optical properties of MXenes largely depend upon surface terminations. Thus, controlling the surface chemistry if MXenes can be an efficient way to improve their properties. This research mainly aims to perform surface modifications of two commonly studied MXenes; Ti2C and Ti3C2, via chemical, thermal or physical processes to enhance electrochemical energy storage properties. The as-prepared and surface modified MXenes have been studied as electrode materials in Li-ion batteries (LIBs) and supercapacitors (SCs). In pursuit of desirable MXene surface, we have developed an in-situ room temperature oxidation process, which resulted in TiO2/MXene nanocomposite and enhanced Li-ion storage. The idea of making metal oxide and MXene nanocomposites was taken to the next level by combining a high capacity anode materials – SnO2 – and MXene. By taking advantage of already existing surface functional groups (–OH), we have developed a composite of SnO2/MXene by atomic layer deposition (ALD) which showed enhanced capacity and excellent cyclic stability. Thermal annealing of MXene at elevated temperature under different atmospheres was carried out and detailed surface chemistry was studied to analyze the change in surface functional groups and its effect on electrochemical performance. Also, we could replace surface functional groups with desirable heteroatoms (e.g., nitrogen) by plasma processing and studied their effect on energy storage properties. This work provides an experimental baseline for surface modification of MXene and helps to understand the role of various surface functional groups in MXene electrode electrochemical performance.
Date of AwardDec 31 2017
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorHusam Alshareef (Supervisor)


  • MXenes
  • Li-ion batteries
  • Supercapacitors
  • Energy storage
  • Atomic layer deposition
  • Ti3C2 / SnO2

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