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.
|Contact: David Ruth|