For twenty-five years, Tekna is developing and commercializing both equipment and procedures according to its induction plasma proprietary technology. Our induction plasma technology is extremely well adapted to the production of advanced materials along with 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 of the requirements of the most demanding industries. Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) represent the fresh new group of materials at Tekna.
AC: Can you summarize to our readers the important points from your press release you published earlier this current year (May 2015) which announced collaboration with all the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)?
JP: The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) developed, over a Tekna plasma system, an activity to make boron nitride powder). BNNTs certainly are a material together with the potential to produce a big turning point on the market. Since last spring, Tekna has been in a special 20-year agreement using the NRC to allow 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 a wide array of applications including inside the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs use a structure nearly the same as the more effective known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have numerous different advantages.
AC: How does the dwelling and properties of BNNTs change from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The structure of nitinol powder is really a close analog from the Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are believed because the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and therefore are very good thermal conductors.
Although, when compared with CNTs, BNNTs have a greater thermal stability, a greater resistance to oxidation plus a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). This will make them the ideal candidate for a lot of fields by which CNTs are currently used 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: What are the main application areas through which BNNTs can be used?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs will still be with their beginning, essentially due to limited accessibility of this material until 2015. With the arrival on the market of large supplies of BNNT from Tekna, the scientific community are able to undertake more in-depth studies of the unique properties of BNNTs that will accelerate the creation of new applications.
Many applications can already be envisioned for Tekna’s BNNT powder since it is a multifunctional and high quality material. I can tell you that, currently, the mix 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 a perfect reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is critical are desperately requiring materials with a really good thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs are the most useful allies to boost not merely the thermal conductivity but also maintaining a specific colour, if required, as a result of their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs are likely to promote interest to the integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a good radiation shielding ability, a very high electrical resistance along with an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: How does Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process are different from methods used by other businesses?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Ever since then, a number of 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 an important limitation: their low yield. Such methods lead to a low BNNT production which is typically less than 1 gram an hour. This fault is oftentimes 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 therefore are assembled in bundles of some silicon nitride powder.
AC: How would you start to see the BNNT industry progressing over the next five-years?
JP: As vast amounts are actually available, we saw the launch of numerous R&D programs depending on Tekna’s BNNT, so when greater quantities will be reached in the following five years, we can only imagine just what the impact might be inside the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers find out more information regarding Tekna plus your BNNTs?
JP: You can get 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 your Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble. He relocated to Québec (Canada) in 2002 to work for the company 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. then a Ph.D. degree in plasma physics from your Université de Montréal in 2008. His M.Sc. thesis was 21dexqpky the 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 for example 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 creation of gas chromatographic systems using plasma detectors.
Since 2010, they have worked at Tekna Plasma Systems in Sherbrooke (QC, Canada) for an R&D coordinator, then as product and repair manager and today as business development director for America. He has been around in control of various R&D projects and business development activities implying micro-sized powder treatment and nanoparticle synthesis by high temperature plasma.