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“Development of new types of layered and 2D functional materials”
Ass.-Prof. Dr. Christina Birkel
(Arizona State University / TU Darmstadt)

We are facing many exciting challenges in materials chemistry and being able to produce high-quality and new materials plays a key role in unraveling the almost endless list of open research questions and developing new technologies. My group focuses on the synthesis of new layered compounds (MAX phases) and 2D materials (MXenes). MAX phases are ternary transition metal-based carbides and nitrides that crystallize in a layered structure with space group P63/mmc. They are unique compounds because they can be described as ceramic metals (they are electrically and thermally conductive) and metallic ceramics (showing high temperature and oxidation resistance). Chemical exfoliation of the MAX phases leads to a relatively young class of 2D materials, the so-called MXenes, which have left almost no potential area of application untouched and will benefit from a greater chemical diversity amongst their family members. Traditionally, MAX phases are prepared by high-temperature solid-state methods, oftentimes under pressure, and the formation of side phases (binary carbides/nitrides and intermetallics) is very common and a challenge in the materials chemistry community. In this talk, I will show wet chemical-based synthesis strategies to access MAX phases that lead to new compositions as well as novel microstructures of these types of materials. For example, we have recently prepared MAX phase Cr2GaC in the form of microwires, thick films and (hollow) microspheres. We study their (local) structure by X-ray and neutron diffraction and focus on their complex and unique transport properties
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