This review by Eklund et al is essentially an extremely comprehensive answer to the question “What are MAX phases?” and an excellent up-to-date overview of MAX phase research.

The article provides background on the phases known, a summary of electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties, synthesis and processing techniques with a comparison of bulk and thin films, and various topics addressing issues like phase stability (and why we can make some MAX phases and not others), defects, polymorphism, and future directions for research as well as applications.

For full text go to the Linköping University & Uppsala University publications page here.
The article reference is:

“The Mn + 1AXn phases: Materials science and thin-film processing”, P. Eklund, M. Beckers, U. Jansson, H. Högberg, & L. Hultman, Thin Solid Films 518, 1851-1878 (2010)

Sections included in the review article:

Overview of the Mn+1AXn Phases

  • Review of fundamentals
  • Polymorphism of MAX phases
  • Intergrown structures — hybrid “523” and “725” MAX phases
  • Vacancies
  • Solid solutions
  • Predictions of new MAX phases
  • Related inherently nanolaminated phases

Thin-film processing of MAX phases

  • Physical vapor deposition (PVD) methods
  • Chemical vapor deposition (CVD)
  • Solid-state reactions
  • Thermal spraying

Comparison of thin-film and bulk synthesis of MAX phases

  • Bulk synthesis methods
  • Differences and similarities between bulk and thin-film MAX-phase synthesis
  • Temperature ranges for MAX-phase synthesis
  • Thin-film and bulk synthesis of new MAX phases

Nucleation and growth of MAX phases

  • Growth mode as a function of temperature
  • Nucleation
  • Growth mode
  • Random stacking
  • Artificial MAX structures

Properties of MAX phases

  • Electrical properties
  • Mechanical properties
  • Tribological properties

Thermal stability and decomposition

  • Thermal stability — general aspects
  • Decomposition mechanism of MAX phase thin films

Applications
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