For 25 years, Tekna continues to be developing and commercializing both equipment and processes depending on its induction plasma proprietary technology. Our induction plasma technology is particularly well adapted to producing advanced materials and also the powders needed 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 of 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 important points through the press release you published earlier this season (May 2015) which announced collaboration together with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)?
JP: The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) developed, on the Tekna plasma system, a procedure to generate boron nitride price). BNNTs really are a material using the potential to produce a big turning point available in the market. Since last spring, Tekna has been in a special 20-year agreement with the NRC allowing the firm to manufacture Boron Nitride Nanotubes at full-scale production.
BNNTs are an extraordinary material with unique properties which will 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 higher known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have several different advantages.
AC: So how exactly does the dwelling and properties of BNNTs differ from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The structure of nitinol powder is actually a close analog from the Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are believed as the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and are excellent thermal conductors.
Although, when compared with CNTs, BNNTs have a greater thermal stability, a greater effectiveness against oxidation as well as a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). This makes them the best candidate for many fields through which CNTs are currently useful for lack 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: Do you know the main application areas through which BNNTs may be used?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs are still inside their very beginning, essentially due to limited accessibility to this material until 2015. Using the arrival on the market of large supplies of BNNT from Tekna, the scientific community can undertake more in-depth studies of the unique properties of BNNTs which will accelerate the growth 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, the mixture of high stiffness and high transparency will be exploited in the growth of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.
Also, the top stiffness of BNNT, as well as its excellent chemical stability, can certainly make this material an excellent reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is vital are desperately needing materials with a good thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs are the most useful allies to enhance not just the thermal conductivity but in addition maintaining a definite colour, if required, due to their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs are likely to promote interest for that integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a good radiation shielding ability, a really high electrical resistance and an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: How does Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process vary from methods made use of by other manufacturers?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Consequently, a few other processes have already been explored like 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 happens to be typically lower than 1 gram each hour. This fault might be coupled 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 so are assembled in bundles of some price of silicon nitride powder.
AC: How do you see the BNNT industry progressing over the next 5 years?
JP: As vast amounts are now available, we saw the launch of numerous R&D programs according to Tekna’s BNNT, so that as higher quantities is going to be reached over the following five years, we could only imagine precisely what the impact might be inside the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers discover more information about Tekna plus your BNNTs?
JP: You can find information about Tekna and BNNT on Tekna’s website and so on our BNNT-dedicated page.
Jérôme Pollak was born in Grenoble, France in 1979. He received the B.Sc. degree in physics in the Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble. He relocated to Québec (Canada) in 2002 to work for the corporation Air Liquide in the appearance of plasma sources to the detoxification of greenhouse gases.
He continued his studies in Montreal, where he received an M.Sc. and after that a Ph.D. degree in plasma physics in 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 like 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 growth of gas chromatographic systems using plasma detectors.
Since 2010, they have worked at Tekna Plasma Systems in Sherbrooke (QC, Canada) being an R&D coordinator, then as product and repair manager and today as business development director for America. He has been around in charge of various R&D projects and business development activities implying micro-sized powder treatment and nanoparticle synthesis by high temperature plasma.