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"C Rescue" -- The Discovery Files

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Two-dimensional MXene nanosheets have promise in all sorts of applications. But they also have an Achilles' heel: they fall apart in a matter of days. Vitamin C to the rescue?

Credit: NSF/Karson Productions

Audio Transcript:

Nanoantioxidant.

I'm Bob Karson with the Discovery Files, from the National Science Foundation.

We humans like to take Vitamin C for its antioxidant properties. Now, researchers at Texas A&M -- "C" -- another way to use them.

There's a new class of nanomaterials called "Maxines": M-X-E-N-E-S. Imagine a sheet just a few atoms thick that can be made of a variety of elements. Invented back in 2011, these nanosheets show promise in everything from batteries to water purification to cancer research.

Except for one little G-G-Glitch: the sheets break down and fall apart within days when exposed to water. Kind of a deal breaker for use in any kind of long-term application. Attempts at (Sound effect: teeth chatter, wind) freezing or drying (Sound effect: slight fry sound) Mxenes didn't do the trick.

Researchers at Texas A&M have come upon a novel solution: Stabilize the sheets using Vitamin C or related compounds. The team found that exposing the material to Ascorbate molecules keeps it from interacting with water molecules stopping the degradation. So far, the treatment has been keeping the nanosheets stable for more than a year and counting.

The team hopes their new method could open a floodgate of applications by extending Mxenes' life and increasing their usefulness. Which is the same reason I take my Vitamin C gummies.

"The discovery files" covers projects funded by the government's National Science Foundation. Federally sponsored research -- brought to you, by you! Learn more at nsf.gov or on our podcast.

 
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