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 particularly well adapted to producing advanced materials along with the powders needed for new innovative emerging products and manufacturing technologies.
Tekna supplies full-scale productions of various Nano powders and micron-sized spherical powders meeting every one of the requirements of the very most demanding industries. Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) represent the newest group of materials at Tekna.
AC: Can you summarize to your readers the important points through 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, on the Tekna plasma system, a process to produce boron nitride powder). BNNTs really are a material with the potential to make a big turning point in the market. Since last spring, Tekna has been doing an exclusive 20-year agreement with all 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 array of applications including from the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs have a structure very similar to the more effective known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have many different advantages.
AC: How does the dwelling and properties of BNNTs differ from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The structure of nitinol powder is really a close analog in the Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are considered because the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and they are great thermal conductors.
Although, compared to CNTs, BNNTs have got a greater thermal stability, a greater resistance to oxidation and a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). This will make them the best candidate for several fields by which CNTs are now useful for lack of an improved alternative. I expect BNNTs to be used in transparent bulk composites, high-temperature materials (including metal matrix composites) and radiation shielding.
Comparison in between the main properties of BNNTs and CNTs (Source: NRC)
AC: Do you know the main application areas in which BNNTs works extremely well?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs remain with their start, essentially due to limited option of this product until 2015. With the arrival on the market of large supplies of BNNT from Tekna, the scientific community can 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 since it is a multifunctional and high quality material. I will tell you that, currently, the mix of high stiffness and high transparency is being exploited in the introduction of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.
Also, our prime stiffness of BNNT, and its excellent chemical stability, can certainly make this product a great reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is crucial are desperately requiring materials with a really good thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs work most effectively allies to improve not just the thermal conductivity but in addition maintaining a clear colour, if required, because of their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs may very well promote interest for your integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a very good radiation shielding ability, a very high electrical resistance along with an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: How can Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process are different from methods made use of by others?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Since that time, several other processes have already been explored such as 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 produce a low BNNT production which is typically less than 1 gram hourly. This fault might 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 are assembled in bundles of some silicon nitride powder.
AC: How will you see the BNNT industry progressing across the next five years?
JP: As large amounts are now available, we saw the launch of various R&D programs depending on Tekna’s BNNT, and also as greater quantities will likely be reached in the next five years, we are able to only imagine precisely what the impact may be in the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers find out more information regarding Tekna as well as your BNNTs?
JP: You will find information regarding Tekna and BNNT on Tekna’s website and on our BNNT-dedicated page.
Jérôme Pollak was created 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 work for the organization Air Liquide in the style of plasma sources for that 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 the Université de Montréal in 2008. His M.Sc. thesis was 21dexqpky the design and 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 like catheters. He was further active 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 creation of gas chromatographic systems using plasma detectors.
Since 2010, they have worked at Tekna Plasma Systems in Sherbrooke (QC, Canada) as 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.