Email Print Share

"C Rescue" -- The Discovery Files

The Discovery Files
Audio Play Audio
The Discovery Files podcast is available through iTunes or you can add the RSS feed to your podcast receiver. You can also access the series via AudioNow® by calling 641-552-8180 on any telephone.

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:


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 or on our podcast.

General Restrictions:
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.

Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation. Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.

Also Available:
Download the high-resolution JPG version of the image. (66.6 KB)

Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.

MP3 icon
NSF podcasts are in mp3 format for easy download to desktop and laptops, as well as mobile devices capable of playing them.