Rice University researchers predict functional advantages of 3-D boron nitride
A three-dimensional porous nanostructure would have a balance of strength, toughness and ability to transfer heat that could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage and composite materials that perform multiple functions, according to engineers at Rice University.
The researchers made this prediction by using computer simulations to create a series of 3-D prototypes with boron nitride, a chemical compound made of boron and nitrogen atoms. Their findings were published online July 14 in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.
The 3-D prototypes fuse one-dimensional boron nitride nanotubes and two-dimensional sheets of boron nitride.
"We combined the tubes and sheets together to make them three-dimensional, thus offering more functionality," said Rouzbeh Shahsavari, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and of materials science and nanoengineering, who co-authored the paper with graduate student Navid Sakhavand.
In the 3-D nanostructure, the extremely thin sheets of boron nitride are stacked in parallel layers, with tube-shaped pillars of boron nitride between each layer to keep the sheets separated.
Shahsavari noted that in the one-dimensional and two-dimensional versions of boron nitride, there is always a bias in directional properties, either toward the tube axis or in-plane directions, which is not suitable for widespread 3-D use in technology and industrial applications.
For example, a one-dimensional boron nitride nanotube can be stretched about 20 percent of its length before it breaks, but the 3-D prototype of boron nitride can be stretched about 45 percent of its length without breaking.
When the typical one- or two-dimensional boron nitride materials are stretched in one direction, they tend to shrink in the other perpendicular directions. In the 3-D prototype, however, when the material stretches in the in-plane direction, it also stretches in perpendicular directions. "Here, the junction between the tubes and sheets has a unique curve-like structure that contributes to this interesting phenomenon, known as the auxetic effect," Shahsavari said.
The thermal transport properties of the 3-D prototype are also advantageous, he said. The one-dimensional boron nitride tubes and two-dimensional sheets can carry heat very fast but only in one or two directions. The 3-D prototype carries heat relatively fast in all 3-D directions. "This feature is ideal for applications that require materials or coating with the capability of extremely fast thermal diffusion to the environments. Examples include car engines or computer CPUs where a fast heat transfer to the environments is critical in proper functioning," Shahsavari said.
The 3-D boron nitride prototype has a very porous and lightweight structure. Each gram of this Swiss cheese-like structure has a surface area equivalent to three tennis courts. Such a high surface area lends itself to customized applications. Shahsavari and Sakhavand predicted that the 3-D prototype of boron nitride would allow efficient gas storage and separation, for example, in vehicles that run on hydrogen cells.
Unlike graphene-based nanostructures, boron nitride is an electrically insulating material. Thus, the 3-D boron nitride prototype has a potential to complement graphene-based nanoelectronics, including potential for the next generation of 3-D semiconductors and 3-D thermal transport devices that could be used in nanoscale calorimeters, microelectronic processes and macroscopic refrigerators.
The actual 3-D boron nitride prototype still has to be created in the lab, and numerous efforts are already underway. "Our computer simulations show what properties can be expected from these structures and what the key factors are that control their functionality," Shahsavari said.
The research was funded by Rice University. The supercomputers used for the research are supported by the National Institutes of Health, IBM, CISCO, Qlogic and Adaptive Computing and the Data Analysis and Visualization Cyber infrastructure funded by the National Science Foundation.
A high-resolution image is available for download at:
A copy of the Journal of Physical Chemistry C paper is available at:
Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,920 undergraduates and 2,567 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just over 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance.
David Ruth | Eurek Alert!
Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.10.2017 | Life Sciences