An almost endless list of potential applications exist for BNNT yarn and tape reinforcement based on their unique mechanical, electro-mechanical, thermal, shielding, and high fracture energy properties. They are ideally suited towards applications in extreme environments such as space, where their very low density provides an additional advantage.
BNNTs are also ideal replacements for materials used in many terrestrial technologies. Potential applications include: structural health monitoring, structural reinforcement, structural composites, shielding, ballistic protection, thermal management, radiation protection, actuation, and multifunctional combinations of the above. Furthermore, if non-toxicity is confirmed in-vivo, this would lead to a host of biomedical and environmental applications as well.
Because the band gap in boron nitride can be tailored with composition due to high electron mobility and optical transparency, it is possible to make BNNT single and multijunction solar cells from this material. The system consists of: thin nanotube sheets (which can be woven, non-woven, aligned or non-aligned) composed of boron nitride, boron-nitrogen-carbon and nearly pure carbon nanotubes of small diameter. The p-junction generally consists of a boron-nitride doped carbon-nanotube material or a carbon doped boron-nitride nanotube material, together with an n-junction of a carbon nanotube material. Alternatively doped thin-film boron nitride or graphene thin films can be employed along with alternative n-junction materials. Multi-junction solar cells of potentially higher efficiency can also be made of similar doped nanotube materials or thin films, sufficiently flexible to bend nearly 180 degrees, and capable of operating at very high temperatures. Both the single junction cell and the multijunction cell have the potential to outperform today’s cells in terms of energy per unit weight.
Carbon nanotubes in the form of yarns, tapes, or sheets have multifunctional properties that include: (1) the potential for increased specific conductivity compared with copper, (2) very high strength and modulus, (3) the ability to be fabricated in useful forms that have damping properties, (4) minimal electromigration under very high currents, (5) virtual immunity to fatigue, and (6) much better corrosion resistance than copper. Individual CNTs making up these structures can have a breaking stress of over 200 GPa and a modulus of over 1000 GPa and wires are expected to exceed 1 GPa, i.e. more than three times the strength of copper.
Continuous wire made from chirality-controlled conductive CNTs and metalized hybrid wires have the potential to revolutionize power conduction applications by providing a lightweight, strong, fatigue-resistant and corrosion-resistant alternative to copper and aluminum conductors. These materials will also enable operation at extreme current densities and temperatures where electromigration and structural failure limit use of currently available materials. Examples of applications where Superwire technology would have immediate impact include lightweighting of satellites and aircraft and high voltage power lines.