For twenty five years, Tekna continues to be 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 as well as 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 very demanding industries. Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) represent the latest group of materials at Tekna.
AC: Would you summarize to our own readers the details in 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, over a Tekna plasma system, a process to create boron nitride powder). BNNTs can be a material with the potential to generate a big turning point on the market. Since last spring, Tekna has been in a special 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 wide array of applications including from the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs possess a structure much like the greater known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have lots of different advantages.
AC: How exactly does the dwelling and properties of BNNTs change from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The structure of nitinol powder is actually a close analog in the Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are viewed because the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and so are excellent thermal conductors.
Although, in comparison to CNTs, BNNTs have got a greater thermal stability, a greater effectiveness against oxidation and a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). As a result them the ideal candidate for several fields in which CNTs are currently employed for lack of a much 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 can be utilized?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs will still be in their beginning, essentially due to the limited option of this material until 2015. Using the arrival available on the market 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 can accelerate the development of new applications.
Many applications can already be envisioned for Tekna’s BNNT powder because it is a multifunctional and quality material. I can tell you that, currently, the combination of high stiffness and transparency is now being exploited in the development of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.
Also, our prime stiffness of BNNT, along with its excellent chemical stability, will make this material an ideal reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is essential are desperately needing materials with an excellent thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs work most effectively allies to enhance not only the thermal conductivity but in addition maintaining a precise colour, if necessary, as a result of their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs will likely promote interest to the integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a very good radiation shielding ability, a very high electrical resistance and an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: How exactly does Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process change from methods used by other manufacturers?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Since that time, several other processes have been explored like the arc-jet plasma method, ball milling-annealing, laser ablation pyrolysis and chemical vapour deposition.
Unfortunately, these processes share a serious limitation: their low yield. Such methods result in a low BNNT production which can be typically below 1 gram per hour. This fault may also 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 therefore are assembled in bundles of some silicon nitride powder.
AC: How can you see the BNNT industry progressing over the next 5 years?
JP: As vast amounts have become available, we saw the launch of numerous R&D programs depending on Tekna’s BNNT, so that as better quantities will be reached within the next 5 years, we could only imagine exactly what the impact might be inside the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers get more information details about Tekna along with your BNNTs?
JP: You will discover details about Tekna and BNNT on Tekna’s website as well as on our BNNT-dedicated page.
Jérôme Pollak came to be in Grenoble, France in 1979. He received the B.Sc. degree in physics from the Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble. He transferred to Québec (Canada) in 2002 to work for the business Air Liquide in the appearance of plasma sources for that 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 from your 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 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 development 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 repair 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.