Synthesis and characterization of Mo-based nanolaminates
Abstract: Mn+1AXn (MAX) phases are nanolaminated compounds based on a transition metal (M), a group A element (A), and carbon or/and nitrogen (X), which exhibit a unique combination of ceramic and metallic properties. Mo-based MAX phases are among the least studied, despite indication of superconducting properties and high potential for fabrication of the grapheneanalogous 2D counterpart, Mo2C MXene. Furthermore, incorporation of Mn atoms in these MAX phases may induce a magnetic response.In this work, I have performed theoretical calculations focused on evaluation of phase stability of the Mon+1GaCn MAX phases, and have synthesized the predicted stable Mo2GaC in thin film form using magnetron sputtering. Close to phase pure epitaxial films were grown at ~590 ºC, and electrical resistivity measurements using a four point probe technique suggest a superconducting behavior with a critical temperature of ~7 K.The A-layer in the MAX phase can be selectively etched using different types of acids, leading to exfoliation of the MX-layers and realization of MXenes. After synthesis of the MAX phase related material Mo2Ga2C, the previously non-explored Mo2C MXene could be fabricated from etching Mo2Ga2C thin films in 50% hydrofluoric acid at a temperature of ~50 ºC for a duration of ~3 h.Motivated by the realization of laminated Mo-based materials in 3D as well as 2D, I set out to explore the magnetic properties resulting from Mn-alloying of the non-magnetic Mo2GaC phase. For that purpose, (Mo,Mn)2GaC was synthesized using a DC magnetron sputtering system with Ga and C as elemental targets and a 1:1 atomic ratio Mo:Mn compound target. Heteroepitaxial films on MgO(111) substrates were grown at ~530 ºC, as confirmed by X-ray diffraction. Compositional analysis using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy showed a 2:1 ratio of the M and A elements and a 1:1 ratio for the Mo and Mn atoms in the film. Vibrating sample magnetometry was utilized in order to measure the magnetic behavior of the films, showing a magnetic response up to at least 300 K, and with a coercive field of 0.06 T, which is the highest reported for any MAX phase to date.
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