Boron Nitride Nanotubes BNNT

Boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are isoelectronic and isostructural with carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which are cylinders with diameters on the order of nanometers and lengths usually on the order of micrometers, but which may extend to millimeters or more. The carbon atoms in CNTs are substituted by alternating boron and nitrogen atoms in BNNTs. BNNTs were first synthesized by Alex Zettl in 19951 following theoretical predictions by Marvin Cohen2. They are one of the few advanced materials whose existence was predicted before discovery. However, the properties of BN nanotubes are very different from carbon nanotubes: whereas CNTs can be metallic or semiconducting depending on the rolling direction and radius, a BNNT is an electrical insulator with a bandgap between 5.5 and 5.9 eV. Unlike for CNTs, this bandgap can be tuned either by applying a bias voltage or by substituting carbon atoms in the BNNT structure, so that the lower bandgap limit can be extended to about 0.2 eV. The arrangement of alternating boron and nitrogen atoms gives BNNTs a corrugated surface and some degree of ionic bonding, so they attach more readily to other molecules and to themselves.

Boron Nitride Nanotubes Technology Slide-3

Boron Nitride Nanotubes Technology Slide-1

Boron Nitride Nanotubes Technology Slide-2

Examples of Boronite BNNT Formats
a. Pressed Panel
b. Top view of as harvested material
c. Side view of as harvested material

Suggested Applications and Properties

1. N.G. Chopra, R.J. Luyken, K. Cherrey, V.H. Crespi, M.L. Cohen, S.G. Louie and A. Zettl, "Boron Nitride Nanotubes”, Science 269, pp. 966-967 (18 August 1995)
2. X. Blase, A. Rubio, S.G. Louie and M.L. Cohen, “Stability and Band Gap Constancy of Boron Nitride Nanotubes”, Europhys. Lett., 28 (5), pp. 335-340 (1994)

Strength and ModulusComposites: Polymer matrix Metal matrix Tethers and cables ArmorBothFlexibility allows 3D weaving Extraordinary resistance to fatigue BNNT yarns expected to be much stronger than CNT yarns due to higher friction forces between BNNTs High fracture toughness coupled with high modulus and strength suggest extraordinary armor performance at much lighter weight than Dyneema armor
High Temperature Oxidation ResistanceCeramic composites or BN-BNBNNTApplications at temperatures of up to 900°C in air are possible without causing damage to the structure
Thermal PropertiesThermal conductorsBothThermal conductivity is generally above 1000 W/m•K for individual tubes but much lower (~40 to 60 W/m•K) for yarns and tapes
Radiation ShieldingMultifunctional (structural and shielding) and lightweightBNNTBoron (especially 10B isotope) superior to all other elements for neutron absorption. Most promising option for space applications as structural shielding material when combined with a polyethylene matrix
  • Solar cells, single and multijunction
  • BNNT is a high bandgap (5.9eV) semiconductor
  • CNT is an electrical conductor
  • Luminescent fibers can be woven into textile
  • Triggered by transponder to illuminate in 4D barcode (x, y, color, time)
  • CNT-based wiring: extremely high ampacity at comparable conductivity and lower density compared to copper
  • Luminescent textiles from UV to IR
  • 4D bar codes
  • Anti-counterfeiting
  • Copper wiring replacement
  • Electric motors
PiezoelectricStructural health monitoring Energy generation Active control of structuresBNNTSmall strains can generate voltages or applying a voltage can give rise to strains

Contact Us

Call us at 1-781-750-8367 or email us by filling out the form below: