Novel 'Faraday Fabric' Blocks Nearly All Electromagnetic Waves, Says Study

In two years, the electromagnetic wave-blocking fabric saw drops in shielding of only eight to 13%.
Brad Bergan

It doesn't take a 5G conspiracy to justify interest in blocking the ambient radiation of our modern electronics infrastructure, which is why researchers have created "Faraday fabrics" capable of blocking nearly all electromagnetic waves, using an advanced 2D material called MXene, according to a recent study published in the journal Carbon.

While this new material is more likely to help protect devices like wearables from interference, it could also help shield people from possibly dangerous radiation levels.


'Faraday fabric' blocks nearly all electromagnetic waves

Electromagnetic waves have proved extremely useful for the continuing advance of modern technology — but with cellular phone networks, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, TV, radio, and other wave-transmitting devices, the airwaves have become very cluttered. Interference can destabilize these crucial connections, slowing and interrupting the functions of electronic devices.

This is why vital components inside devices are typically wrapped in shielding materials — like copper foil, New Atlas reports. But such shielding materials add bulk and weight to the device, and — since they only reflect incoming waves — the ambient noise of various devices remains unreduced.

MXenes is a class of conductive, two-dimensional materials quickly making figurative waves in engineering sectors for their potential to assist in the construction of sprayable antennas, faster-charging battery electrodes, and conductive clays.

Electromagnetic wave blocker made via dipping cotton, linen in MXene solution

In recent months, the research team at Drexel described a way for one specific MXene — called titanium carbonitride — to enable the creation of an outstanding EM-shielding material. It's surprisingly thin, at only a few atoms thick. But it also absorbs signals, instead of merely reflecting them — which helps clean up airwaves.

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The new study describes a new application for the MXene capacity to shield in fabrics designed to block electromagnetic waves. To create this technology, the researchers dipped samples of linen and cotton into an MXene solution, and discovered the result: a new fabric capable of blocking more than 99.9% of signals.

Drexel MXene Fabric
Linen or cotton fabric coated with a solution of MXene proved 99.9% effective in blocking electromagnetic interference. Source: Drexel University

Fabrics coated in MXene exceed performance of metal-coated ones

In additional tests, the fabric showed notable staying power. After a two-year storage period in regular conditions, the samples experienced relatively small drops in shielding effectiveness — at a range of eight to 13%.

"This work provides a much-improved alternative to current EMI shielding textiles," said Simge Uzun, one of the study's authors, in a blog post on Drexel's website. "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."

Wave-blocking fabrics could prove indispensable in shielding devices from radiation

The team also said these shielding fabrics might help protect wearable electronics from interference without creating the inconvenience of added bulk. The new wave-blocking fabrics might also help in the construction of protective suits enabling people who need to venture into places with dangerously high electromagnetic fields — like those exposed to substantial levels of microwave radiation, which was diagnosed as the probable cause for Havana Syndrome.

With consumer electronics proliferating like a torrential blizzard — from Apple's latest iPhone, wearables, and related tech to medical devices saving lives — electromagnetic wave-blocking fabrics could prove to be an indispensable asset to future technology. And we should never forget — 5G conspiracy or no, it never hurts to have advanced means of protecting ourselves from dangerous levels of radiation in the universe, of which there is very, very much.

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