For twenty five years, Tekna has been developing and commercializing both equipment and processes based on its induction plasma proprietary technology. Our induction plasma technology is very well adapted to the creation of advanced materials and the powders required for new innovative emerging products and manufacturing technologies.
Tekna supplies full-scale productions of a variety of Nano powders and micron-sized spherical powders meeting all the requirements of the most demanding industries. Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) represent the newest family of materials at Tekna.
AC: Could you summarize to our own readers the details in the press release you published earlier this current year (May 2015) which announced collaboration using the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)?
JP: The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) developed, over a Tekna plasma system, an operation to generate boron nitride price). BNNTs really are a material with all the potential to make a big turning point in the marketplace. Since last spring, Tekna has been around in an exclusive 20-year agreement with the NRC to allow the firm to manufacture Boron Nitride Nanotubes at full-scale production.
BNNTs are an extraordinary material with unique properties that can revolutionise engineered materials across a wide range of applications including inside the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs use a structure nearly the same as the better known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have several different advantages.
AC: So how exactly does the structure and properties of BNNTs are different from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The dwelling of Nickel Titanium alloy powder is a close analog of your Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are believed as being the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and so are great thermal conductors.
Although, in comparison to CNTs, BNNTs possess a greater thermal stability, a better potential to deal with oxidation plus a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). As a result them the best candidate for most fields by which CNTs are now employed for absence of a better alternative. I expect BNNTs to be used in transparent bulk composites, high-temperature materials (including metal matrix composites) and radiation shielding.
Comparison involving the main properties of BNNTs and CNTs (Source: NRC)
AC: What are the main application areas by which BNNTs works extremely well?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs are still inside their beginning, essentially as a result of limited availability of this material until 2015. Using the arrival on the market of large supplies of BNNT from Tekna, the scientific community will be able to undertake more in-depth studies from the unique properties of BNNTs which can accelerate the development of new applications.
Many applications can be envisioned for Tekna’s BNNT powder because it is a multifunctional and high quality material. I can tell you that, currently, the mix of high stiffness and high transparency is now being exploited in the development of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.
Also, the high stiffness of BNNT, along with its excellent chemical stability, can certainly make this product an ideal reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is critical are desperately requiring materials with an excellent thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs are the best allies to enhance not only the thermal conductivity but additionally maintaining a clear colour, if necessary, thanks to their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs are likely to promote interest to the integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a very good radiation shielding ability, a really high electrical resistance and an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: How can Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process differ from methods used by other manufacturers?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Ever since then, a few other processes have been explored including the arc-jet plasma method, ball milling-annealing, laser ablation pyrolysis and chemical vapour deposition.
Unfortunately, these processes share a major limitation: their low yield. Such methods lead to a low BNNT production which can be typically less than 1 gram per hour. This fault may also be in addition to the inability to make small diameters.
As a result, the availability of large quantities of high quality BNNTs for applications development using these processes is still a significant challenge.
Fortunately, Tekna’s inductively coupled plasma (ICP) technology has successfully overcome this challenge. The combination of Tekna’s ICP expertise and its partnership with the NRC opened the door to a brand new range of systems capable of producing highly pure BNNTs in significant quantities. Tekna’s system productivity reaches up to 2 orders of magnitude higher than any of the current methods.
AC: What are the advantages of using Tekna’s unique approach in terms of quantity and price for the commercial market?
JP: The productivity and cost efficiency of Tekna’s ICP technology allow for the first time, the supply of kilograms of Boron Nitride Nanotubes, produced at a much lower production cost.
AC: Could you outline the composition of the BNNTs Tekna synthesizes?
JP: The main interesting characteristics include the tube diameter, about 5 nm, and purity (> 50 %). Most nanotubes contain 3 to 5 walls and they are assembled in bundles of some silicon nitride powder.
AC: How can you start to see the BNNT industry progressing over the next five-years?
JP: As large volumes are actually available, we saw the launch of various R&D programs according to Tekna’s BNNT, so when higher quantities will probably be reached in the following five years, we could only imagine what the impact may be within the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers discover more information about Tekna as well as your BNNTs?
JP: You will find information about Tekna and BNNT on Tekna’s website and also on our BNNT-dedicated page.
Jérôme Pollak was born in Grenoble, France in 1979. He received the B.Sc. degree in physics from your Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble. He relocated to Québec (Canada) in 2002 to get results for the company Air Liquide in the style of plasma sources for your detoxification of greenhouse gases.
He continued his studies in Montreal, where he received an M.Sc. after which a Ph.D. degree in plasma physics from the Université de Montréal in 2008. His M.Sc. thesis was 21dexqpky the style and modelling of field applicators to sustain plasma with RF and microwave fields. While his Ph.D. thesis concerned the plasma sterilization of thermosensitive medical devices such as catheters. He was further working in the characterization and modelling of cold plasma effects on microorganisms and polymers.
After his Ph.D., he worked for three years for Morgan Schaffer in Montreal on the growth of gas chromatographic systems using plasma detectors.
Since 2010, he has worked at Tekna Plasma Systems in Sherbrooke (QC, Canada) for an R&D coordinator, then as product and service manager and today as business development director for America. He has been doing charge of various R&D projects and business development activities implying micro-sized powder treatment and nanoparticle synthesis by high temperature plasma.