For 25 years, Tekna continues to be developing and commercializing both equipment and processes according to its induction plasma proprietary technology. Our induction plasma technology is especially well adapted to the production of advanced materials and also the powders needed for new innovative emerging products and manufacturing technologies.
Tekna supplies full-scale productions of a number of Nano powders and micron-sized spherical powders meeting all the requirements of the more demanding industries. Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) represent the brand new group of materials at Tekna.
AC: Can you summarize to the readers the details in the press release you published earlier this season (May 2015) which announced collaboration using the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)?
JP: The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) developed, on a Tekna plasma system, a procedure to make boron nitride powder). BNNTs certainly are a material with the potential to produce a big turning point in the marketplace. Since last spring, Tekna has been around in a unique 20-year agreement using the NRC allowing 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 from the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs have got a structure very similar to the more effective known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have several different advantages.
AC: How does the structure and properties of BNNTs change from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The dwelling of Ni-Ti Powder is really a close analog in the Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are viewed since the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and they are excellent thermal conductors.
Although, in comparison with CNTs, BNNTs have a greater thermal stability, an improved resistance to oxidation and a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). This makes them the very best candidate for most fields in which CNTs are presently used for insufficient a better alternative. I expect BNNTs for use 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: What are the main application areas where BNNTs can be used?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs continue to be in their beginning, essentially as a result of limited accessibility to this material 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 of the unique properties of BNNTs which will accelerate the introduction of new applications.
Many applications can be envisioned for Tekna’s BNNT powder as it is a multifunctional and quality material. I can tell you that, currently, the mixture of high stiffness and high transparency has been exploited in the introduction of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.
Also, the top stiffness of BNNT, along with its excellent chemical stability, will make this product an excellent reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is critical are desperately looking for materials with a good thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs are the most useful allies to further improve not simply the thermal conductivity and also maintaining a definite colour, if required, because of their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs will probably promote interest to the integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a great radiation shielding ability, a very high electrical resistance along with an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: How can Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process differ from methods employed by other businesses?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Since that time, a few other processes happen to be explored for example 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 lead to a low BNNT production which happens to be typically under 1 gram per hour. This fault might be coupled 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 sintered powder.
AC: How will you begin to 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 on Tekna’s BNNT, so when better quantities will probably be reached over the following five years, we can easily only imagine precisely what the impact could be in the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers learn more specifics of Tekna plus your BNNTs?
JP: You can find details about 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 transferred to Québec (Canada) in 2002 to get results for the corporation Air Liquide in the appearance of plasma sources for 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 from your 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 including 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 3 years for Morgan Schaffer in Montreal on the introduction 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 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.