The Mn+1AXn phases, or “MAX” phases, are nano-laminates where M is an early transition metal, A belongs to groups 13-16 and X is either C or N. They were discovered some decades ago. However, it is only at the end of the 20th century that the possibility to obtain them in the form of almost pure, polycrystalline samples really initiated a research field which has since then been continuously expanding. MAX phase research has received a new impetus a few years ago, after it was demonstrated that many members of this nano-lamellar family could be transformed in two-dimensional (2D) materials called MXenes. Both MAX phases and MXenes attract the interest of the scientific community because they present exceptional conducting and mechanical properties, are highly stable and could be used in a large number of applications, whenever combining the good properties of metals to those of ceramics is sought for (e.g., highly stable volumetric capacitances with extreme capacitance values). Our specificity is the production of single crystals of those phases.
We grow single crystals of MAX phases using high temperature solution growth [6,8] eand determine their physical properties, focusing on the anisotropies expected from their nano-lamellar structure. To cite but a few examples, in collaboration with our various partners, we recently measured magneto-transport [3,7], band structure  or phonon dispersion anisotropies of MAX phase single crystals. We also use our crystals for producing MXenes and studying their physical properties . We just started to investigate new magnetic MAX phases and associated Mxenes within the frame of a European project involving LMGP, NEEL Institute, Linköping University (LiU), Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) and ESRF as main partners. We do not limit ourselves to nano-lamellar carbides, but we also started to develop activities on nano-lamellar borides in collaboration with Drexel (Philadelphia) .
MORE-MAX (2018-2021, coordinator): Type: International Strategic Partnerships (ISP) program, IDEX call of the Univ. Grenoble-Alpes+ESRF. Aim: To probe the magnetism of each chemical element inside Rare-Earth-based MAX phases using macroscopic single crystals, to probe the magnetic interactions. Partners: European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF, Grenoble), Linköping University (LiU).
MORE-MXenes (2018-2021, coordinator): Type: “Flagera call 2017”, European program belonging to the Graphene Flagship program Aim: To produce Magnetically-Ordered-Rare-Earth-based MAX phases, the associated MXenes and investigate their magnetic properties and potential for spin injection. Partners: Linköping University (LiU), Néel Institute (Grenoble), Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL).
Chair-of-Excellence Program of M. W. Barsoum (2017-2019, coordinator): Type: Nanosciences Foundation program, UGA Foundation, Univ. Grenoble-Alpes. Aim: To produce MXenes of large area from MAX single crystals and fabricate 2D electron devices. Partners: Drexel University (Philadelphia), Néel Institute (Grenoble), PHELIQS-INAC (Grenoble). MAXICRYST (2014-2017, ended, coordinator) Type: Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR), National project. Aim: To produce single crystals of MAX phases of macroscopic size and investigate their physical anisotropies. Partners: PPRIME Institute (Poitiers), LNCMI (Grenoble), LMI (Lyon).
Drexel (Philadelphia), USA.
Linköping University (LiU), Sweden.
Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium.
Nagoya University (Japan).
European Synchroton Radiation Facility (ESRF), Grenoble.
Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), Grenoble.
Written by Maria Carmen Jimenez Arevalo
Date of update December 19, 2018
Research Nanomaterials and advanced heterostructures (NanoMAT)