A Rice University team led by professors Matteo Pasquali and Angel Martí has simplified handling of the highly valuable nanotubes to make them more suitable for large-scale applications, including aerospace, electronics and energy-efficient materials.
The researchers reported in Nature Communications that boron nitride nanotubes, aka BNNTs, assemble themselves into liquid crystals under the right conditions, primarily concentrations above 170 parts per million by weight in chlorosulfonic acid.
These liquid crystals consist of aligned BNNTs that are far easier to process than the tangled nanotubes that usually form in solution. The lab proceeded to form fibers and films from the liquid crystalline solutions.
"BNNT fibers are attractive for the manufacture of a variety of products, with applications that range from wearables to aerospace vehicles," said Martí, whose lab designed solutions and helped characterize the fibers produced in Pasquali's lab.
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