For 25 years, Tekna continues to be developing and commercializing both equipment and procedures based upon its induction plasma proprietary technology. Our induction plasma technology is extremely well adapted to the production of advanced materials as well as the powders required 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 latest family of materials at Tekna.
AC: Could you possibly summarize to your readers the details from the 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, with a Tekna plasma system, a procedure to produce boron nitride powder). BNNTs certainly are a material using the potential to create a big turning point available in the market. Since last spring, Tekna has been doing a special 20-year agreement together with the NRC allowing the firm to produce Boron Nitride Nanotubes at full-scale production.
BNNTs are an extraordinary material with unique properties that may revolutionise engineered materials across a wide range of applications including inside the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs use a structure very similar to the more effective known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have lots of different advantages.
AC: So how exactly does the dwelling and properties of BNNTs change from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?
JP: The structure of Nickel Titanium alloy powder is actually a close analog of your Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are believed since the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and are very good thermal conductors.
Although, when compared with CNTs, BNNTs have got a greater thermal stability, a better effectiveness against oxidation plus a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). As a result them the very best candidate for many fields in which CNTs are now useful for lack of a greater alternative. I expect BNNTs for use in transparent bulk composites, high-temperature materials (including metal matrix composites) and radiation shielding.
Comparison between your main properties of BNNTs and CNTs (Source: NRC)
AC: What are the main application areas in which BNNTs may be used?
JP: The applications involving BNNTs are still in their beginning, essentially due to limited option of this material until 2015. With 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 your unique properties of BNNTs which will accelerate the creation of new applications.
Many applications can already be envisioned for Tekna’s BNNT powder because it is a multifunctional and high quality material. I can tell you that, currently, a combination of high stiffness and high transparency is now being exploited in the introduction of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.
Also, the high stiffness of BNNT, along with its excellent chemical stability, can certainly make this product an ideal reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.
Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is vital are desperately needing materials with a very good thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs work most effectively allies to further improve not just the thermal conductivity but also maintaining a definite colour, as needed, as a result of their high transparency.
Other intrinsic properties of BNNTs will likely promote interest for the integration of BNNTs into new applications. BNNTs have a good radiation shielding ability, a very high electrical resistance as well as an excellent piezoelectricity.
AC: How can Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process differ from methods made use of by other companies?
JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Consequently, 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 lead to a low BNNT production which is typically below 1 gram an hour. 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 they are assembled in bundles of a few Silicon nitride sintered powder.
AC: How do you begin to see the BNNT industry progressing over the next five-years?
JP: As large amounts have become available, we saw the launch of various R&D programs based upon Tekna’s BNNT, so that as greater quantities will likely be reached over the following 5 years, we could only imagine just what the impact could possibly be from the sciences and industry fields.
AC: Where can our readers learn more information regarding Tekna plus your BNNTs?
JP: You will discover information regarding Tekna and BNNT on Tekna’s website and so on our BNNT-dedicated page.
Jérôme Pollak came into this world in Grenoble, France in 1979. He received the B.Sc. degree in physics from your Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble. He transferred to Québec (Canada) in 2002 to get results 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. then a Ph.D. degree in plasma physics from the 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 working 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) for an R&D coordinator, then as product and service manager now as business development director for America. He has been doing control of various R&D projects and business development activities implying micro-sized powder treatment and nanoparticle synthesis by high temperature plasma.