For 25 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 brand new family of materials at Tekna.
AC: Could you summarize to the readers the details through the press release you published earlier this coming year (May 2015) which announced collaboration with all the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)?
JP: The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) developed, over a Tekna plasma system, a process to produce boron nitride powder). BNNTs are a material with all the potential to make a big turning point in the market. Since last spring, Tekna has been around in a unique 20-year agreement together with the NRC to permit the firm to manufacture Boron Nitride Nanotubes at full-scale production.
BNNTs are an extraordinary material with unique properties that may revolutionise engineered materials across an array of applications including inside the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs have a structure nearly the same as the better known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have numerous different advantages.
AC: How exactly does the structure and properties of BNNTs vary from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The dwelling of Nickel Titanium alloy powder is really a close analog of your Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are viewed since the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and so are very good thermal conductors.
Although, compared to CNTs, BNNTs possess a greater thermal stability, a greater resistance to oxidation along with a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). This may cause them the ideal candidate for many fields through which CNTs are employed for deficiency of a greater alternative. I expect BNNTs to use in transparent bulk composites, high-temperature materials (including metal matrix composites) and radiation shielding.
Comparison between your main properties of BNNTs and CNTs (Source: NRC)
AC: Do you know the main application areas where BNNTs works extremely well?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs continue to be inside their very beginning, essentially due to limited option of this product until 2015. Using the arrival on the market of large supplies of BNNT from Tekna, the scientific community should be able to undertake more in-depth studies of your unique properties of BNNTs which can accelerate the development of new applications.
Many applications can already be envisioned for Tekna’s BNNT powder since it is a multifunctional and quality material. I can tell you that, currently, the combination of high stiffness and high transparency is now being exploited in the introduction of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.
Also, the high stiffness of BNNT, and its excellent chemical stability, is likely to make this product a great reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is essential are desperately needing materials with a really good thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs work most effectively allies to improve not just the thermal conductivity but additionally maintaining a precise colour, if necessary, thanks to their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs will probably promote interest for the integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a very good radiation shielding ability, an extremely high electrical resistance plus an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: How exactly does Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process vary from methods made use of by others?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Since then, a number of other processes happen to be explored like the arc-jet plasma method, ball milling-annealing, laser ablation pyrolysis and chemical vapour deposition.
Unfortunately, these processes share an important limitation: their low yield. Such methods produce a low BNNT production which is typically below 1 gram each hour. This fault may also be in conjunction with 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 are assembled in bundles of a few price of silicon nitride powder.
AC: How do you see the BNNT industry progressing on the next five-years?
JP: As large amounts are now available, we saw the launch of several R&D programs based upon Tekna’s BNNT, so when higher quantities will be reached in the next five-years, we could only imagine exactly what the impact may be in the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers get more information information about Tekna plus your BNNTs?
JP: You can find information regarding Tekna and BNNT on Tekna’s website as well as on our BNNT-dedicated page.
Jérôme Pollak was born in Grenoble, France in 1979. He received the B.Sc. degree in physics through the Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble. He moved to Québec (Canada) in 2002 to get results for the business Air Liquide in the style of plasma sources for the detoxification of greenhouse gases.
He continued his studies in Montreal, where he received an M.Sc. then a Ph.D. degree in plasma physics through 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 involved 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 development of gas chromatographic systems using plasma detectors.
Since 2010, he has worked at Tekna Plasma Systems in Sherbrooke (QC, Canada) being an R&D coordinator, then as product and repair manager now as business development director for America. He has been doing control of various R&D projects and business development activities implying micro-sized powder treatment and nanoparticle synthesis by high temperature plasma.