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For 25 years, Tekna has become developing and commercializing both equipment and processes according to its induction plasma proprietary technology. Our induction plasma technology is very well adapted to the production of advanced materials along with 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 all the requirements of the very most demanding industries. Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNT) represent the brand new family of materials at Tekna.

AC: Could you possibly summarize to our readers the details in the press release you published earlier this 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 procedure to create boron nitride powder). BNNTs can be a material with all the potential to create a big turning point available in the market. Since last spring, Tekna has been doing a special 20-year agreement 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 range of applications including from the defence and security, aerospace, biomedical and automotive sectors. BNNTs have got a structure nearly the same as the more effective known carbon nanotubes. They share the extraordinary mechanical properties of Carbon Nanotubes but have several different advantages.

AC: How exactly does the dwelling and properties of BNNTs change from Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs)?

JP: The dwelling of Ni-Ti Powder can be a close analog of the Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). Both CNTs and BNNTs are viewed as the strongest light-weight nanomaterials and are excellent thermal conductors.

Although, compared to CNTs, BNNTs use a greater thermal stability, a greater potential to deal with oxidation plus a wider band gap (~5.5 eV). As a result them the best candidate for several fields where CNTs are useful for absence of a better alternative. I expect BNNTs to be utilized 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: Do you know the main application areas where BNNTs works extremely well?

JP: The applications involving BNNTs are still in their beginning, essentially as a result of limited option of this material until 2015. Using the arrival in the marketplace of large supplies of BNNT from Tekna, the scientific community should be able to undertake more in-depth studies of your unique properties of BNNTs that can accelerate the growth 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 mixture of high stiffness and high transparency is now being exploited in the creation of BNNT-reinforced glass composites.

Also, the high stiffness of BNNT, as well as its excellent chemical stability, will make this product a great reinforcement in polymers, ceramics and metals.

Besides, many applications where heat dissipation is crucial are desperately looking for materials with a very good thermal conductivity. Tekna’s BNNTs are the most effective allies to boost not simply the thermal conductivity but in addition maintaining a precise colour, if required, thanks to 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: So how exactly does Tekna’s BNNT synthesis process change from methods made use of by other manufacturers?

JP: BNNTs were first synthesized in 1995. Consequently, other processes have been explored such as 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 can be typically less than 1 gram per hour. This fault may also 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 so are assembled in bundles of a few price of silicon nitride powder.

AC: How can you begin to see the BNNT industry progressing within the next five years?

JP: As large quantities are actually available, we saw the launch of countless R&D programs according to Tekna’s BNNT, and also as higher quantities will be reached in the next five-years, we could only imagine what the impact might be within the sciences and industry fields.

AC: Where can our readers discover more details about Tekna as well as your BNNTs?

JP: You can find details about Tekna and BNNT on Tekna’s website and also 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 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 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 for example 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 three 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) being an R&D coordinator, then as product and service manager and now 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.