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Student Examines Material
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Researchers:
Dr. Miladin Radovic and Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus

Background:
The MAX phases are a family of over 70 nano-layered ceramics sharing the same chemical formula Mn+1AXn, where M is an early transition metal, A is a 13-16 group element and X is carbon or nitrogen51. These ternary carbides and nitrides have attracted considerable attention over the past two decades because of their unique combination of metallic- and ceramic-like properties, such as high stiffness, thermal and electrical conductivity, good chemical resistance, relatively low thermal expansion coefficients, easy machinability, and excellent damage tolerance52-53. These unique properties can be easily tuned by doping (alloying) of M or A sites, which makes MAX phases appealing for different applications, including high-temperature structural components, protective coatings, nuclear cladding, and sliding electrical contacts, among others54-47. Moreover, with the recent discovery of MXenes as 2D derivatives of MAX phases, their potential applications have broadened to include energy storage and conversion, flexible electronics, EMI shielding, etc.58-66. We have been conducting fundamental research on the discovery of new MAX phases and MXenes, which has been supported over the last couple of years by NSF (award numbers: 1233792, 1410983, 1729350, 1760859). Most recently, we developed stretchable and bendable surface-agnostic conductive sensors using layer-by layer deposited MXene films, Fig. 4.

Research Plan:
The REU students will process and characterize new MAX phase compositions, especially solid solutions doped with late transition metals. The samples will be etched and exfoliated to obtain MXenes with new structures and properties. The students will also be involved in determining structural properties of synthesized MAX phases and MXenes and characterization of their functional properties. They will learn how to use sophisticated characterization methods, such as X-ray Diffraction (XRD), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) and Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy (RUS). Dr. Radovic has successfully supervised the work of over 24 graduate students, working primarily on MAX phases and other ceramics. The mentoring team for the students working on MAX phases, consisting of Dr. Radovic, Dr. Lutkenhaus and at least two graduate students, will train the students on analyzing the results from various tests and link them to the structure of processed multifunctional ceramics.