For twenty five years, Tekna has been developing and commercializing both equipment and procedures based upon its induction plasma proprietary technology. Our induction plasma technology is very well adapted to the production of advanced materials and the powders essential 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 more demanding industries. Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) represent the latest family of materials at Tekna.
AC: Would you summarize to the readers the specifics through the press release you published earlier this year (May 2015) which announced collaboration with all the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)?
JP: The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) developed, with a Tekna plasma system, a process to produce hexagonal boron nitride). BNNTs really are a material using the potential to generate a big turning point on the market. Since last spring, Tekna has been around an exclusive 20-year agreement together with the NRC to permit the firm to produce Boron Nitride Nanotubes at full-scale production.
BNNTs are an extraordinary material with unique properties which will revolutionise engineered materials across a variety of applications including inside the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs have got a structure very similar to the higher known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have many different advantages.
AC: So how exactly does the dwelling and properties of BNNTs vary from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The dwelling of nitinol powder is actually a close analog from the 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 with CNTs, BNNTs use a greater thermal stability, a much better resistance to oxidation plus a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). This may cause them the very best candidate for several fields in which CNTs are used for deficiency 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 between the main properties of BNNTs and CNTs (Source: NRC)
AC: Which are the main application areas by which BNNTs can be used?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs are still in their very beginning, essentially due to limited availability of this product until 2015. Using the arrival in the marketplace 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 that can accelerate the development of new applications.
Many applications can be envisioned for Tekna’s BNNT powder because it is a multifunctional and quality material. I notice you that, currently, a combination of high stiffness and transparency is being exploited in the introduction of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.
Also, the top stiffness of BNNT, along with its excellent chemical stability, is likely to make this product an ideal reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is vital are desperately needing materials with an excellent thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs work most effectively allies to improve not merely the thermal conductivity and also maintaining a specific colour, as needed, as a result of their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs will probably promote interest for that integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a good radiation shielding ability, a very high electrical resistance plus an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: So how exactly does Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process are different from methods employed by other businesses?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Since then, a number of other processes are already 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 result in a low BNNT production which can be typically below 1 gram hourly. This fault is sometimes along with the lack of ability 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 some silicon nitride powder.
AC: How would you see the BNNT industry progressing across the next five-years?
JP: As vast amounts are actually available, we saw the launch of countless R&D programs based upon Tekna’s BNNT, so when much higher quantities will probably be reached over the following five-years, we are able to only imagine exactly what the impact might be from the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers learn more specifics of Tekna plus your BNNTs?
JP: You will discover information about Tekna and BNNT on Tekna’s website and so on our BNNT-dedicated page.
Jérôme Pollak was created in Grenoble, France in 1979. He received the B.Sc. degree in physics in 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 to the detoxification of greenhouse gases.
He continued his studies in Montreal, where he received an M.Sc. and then a Ph.D. degree in plasma physics through the Université de Montréal in 2008. His M.Sc. thesis was 21dexqpky the look 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 creation of gas chromatographic systems using plasma detectors.
Since 2010, they have worked at Tekna Plasma Systems in Sherbrooke (QC, Canada) as being an R&D coordinator, then as product and service manager and from now on as business development director for America. He has been around control of various R&D projects and business development activities implying micro-sized powder treatment and nanoparticle synthesis by high temperature plasma.