Flocculation of MXenes and Their Use as 2D Particle Surfactants for Capsule Formation.
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MXenes, transition metal carbides or nitrides, have gained great attention in recent years due to their high electrical conductivity and catalytic activity, hydrophilicity, and diverse surface chemistry. However, high hydrophilicity and negative potential of the MXene nanosheets limit their processability and interfacial assembly. Previous examples for modifying the dispersibility and wettability of MXenes have focused on the use of organic ligands, such as alkyl amines, or covalent modification with triethoxysilanes. Here, we report a simple method to access MXene-stabilized oil-in-water emulsions by using common inorganic salts (e.g., NaCl) to flocculate the nanosheets and demonstrate the use of these Pickering emulsions to prepare capsules with shells of MXene and polymer. Ti3C2Tz nanosheets are used as the representative MXene. The salt-flocculated MXene nanosheets produce emulsions that are stable for days, as determined by optical microscopy imaging. The incorporation of a diisocyanate in the discontinuous oil phase and diamine in the continuous water phase led to interfacial polymerization and the formation of capsules. The capsules were characterized by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), confirming the presence of both polymer and nanosheets. The addition of ethanol to the capsules led to the removal of the toluene core and retention of the shell structure. The ability to assemble MXene nanosheets at fluid-fluid interfaces without the use of ligands or cosurfactants expands the accessible material constructs relevant for biomedical engineering, water purification, energy storage, electromagnetic electronics, catalysis, and so on.