MAX phases are a family of ternary carbides and nitrides that share a similar layered hexagonal crystal structure. They are so called because of their chemical formula: M(n+1)AXn —where n = 1, 2, or 3, where M is an early transition metal, A is an element from the IIIA or IVA groups, and X is carbon and/or nitrogen class of materials. MAX phases combine attractive properties of both ceramics and metals, and has been suggested for potential applications in nuclear reactor. The specific activities of Ti3AlC2 and Ti2AlC were found to be similar to SiC, and are three orders of magnitude less than Alloy 617 after 10–60 years decay for all three activation times in both the fast and thermal spectra.
MAX phases are important precursors for synthesizing MXene, a highly conductive 2-dimentional nanomaterial. MXenes are produced by selective etching of the A element from the MAX phases. It combine the metallic conductivity of transition metal carbides with the hydrophilic nature of their hydroxyl or oxygen terminated surfaces. Ti3AlC2 MAX phase is one of the most used MAX phase for MXene (Ti3C2Tx).