Time-Dependent Cation Selectivity of Titanium Carbide MXene in Aqueous Solution

Abstract Electrochemical ion separation is a promising technology to recover valuable ionic species from water. Pseudocapacitive materials, especially 2D materials, are up-and-coming electrodes for electrochemical ion separation. For implementation, it is essential to understand the interplay of the intrinsic preference of a specific ion (by charge/size), kinetic ion preference (by mobility), and crystal structure changes. Ti3C2Tz MXene is chosen here to investigate its selective behavior toward alkali and alkaline earth cations. Utilizing an online inductively coupled plasma system, it is found that Ti3C2Tz shows a time-dependent selectivity feature. In the early stage of charging (up to about 50 min), K+ is preferred, while ultimately Ca2+ and Mg2+ uptake dominate; this unique phenomenon is related to dehydration energy barriers and the ion exchange effect between divalent and monovalent cations. Given the wide variety of MXenes, this work opens the door to a new avenue where selective ion-separation with MXene can be further engineered and optimized.