BNNTBiomimetic Nanoscience and NanoTechnology (Ohio University Nanobiotechnology Initiative)
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Boron in BNNTs also makes the material highly effective at neutron and ultraviolet shielding.
Perhaps what most sets BNNTs apart from CNTs is the ability to make them clear.
You can't do that with carbon nanotubes but the potential is there with BNNTs.
The potential is also there to come up with highly efficient energy harvesting devices, as BNNTs have promising piezoelectric properties, meaning they can generate an electrical current when subjected to mechanical stress, either on their own or in a plastic composite.
Boron nitride nanotubes provide a versatile platform for additional novel physics phenomena and applications," wrote Marvin Cohen and Alex Zettl in their 2010 overview of BNNTs that appeared in Physics Today.
Australian researchers reported in 2009 that BNNTs were highly effective at desalting water when compared to existing membrane-based desalination systems or even carbon nanotubes.
This same property of BNNTs is also being considered for large-scale energy generation.
As if BNNTs weren't impressive enough, they also appear helpful in the fight against all sorts of soft tissue cancers.
Life science researchers at Italy's Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, working with NASA Langley Research Center, found that when they applied tiny strands of BNNTs to tumour cells there was a 2.
So if BNNTs are such a great material, and if they were first developed only a few years after CNTs, why have they not developed at the same pace?
There are other nano-materials that will come out of this same technology that are very significant to mission applications," said Catharine Fay, NASA Langley's BNNT program manager and a senior materials engineer.
The BNNT materials have a piezoelectric function - meaning it creates electricity resulting from pressure - and can be used in extreme temperature environments (up to 800 C or 1472 F) and shields against neutron and ultraviolet radiation.