Open Access Nano Express

Mechanically activated catalyst mixing for high-yield boron nitride nanotube growth

Ling Li12, Lu Hua Li2*, Ying Chen2, Xiujuan J Dai2, Tan Xing2, Mladen Petravic3 and Xiaowei Liu1*

Author affiliations

1 MEMS Center, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150001, China

2 Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University, Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus, Waurn Ponds, Victoria 3216, Australia

3 Department of Physics and Center for Micro and Nano Sciences and Technologies, University of Rijeka, Rijeka 51000, Croatia

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:417  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-417

Published: 24 July 2012

Abstract

Boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) have many fascinating properties and a wide range of applications. An improved ball milling method has been developed for high-yield BNNT synthesis, in which metal nitrate, such as Fe(NO3)3, and amorphous boron powder are milled together to prepare a more effective precursor. The heating of the precursor in nitrogen-containing gas produces a high density of BNNTs with controlled structures. The chemical bonding and structure of the synthesized BNNTs are precisely probed by near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy. The higher efficiency of the precursor containing milling-activated catalyst is revealed by thermogravimetric analyses. Detailed X-ray diffraction and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy investigations disclose that during ball milling the Fe(NO3)3 decomposes to Fe which greatly accelerates the nitriding reaction and therefore increases the yield of BNNTs. This improved synthesis method brings the large-scale production and application of BNNTs one step closer.

Keywords:
Boron nitride nanotube; Mechanical milling; Nanostructured materials; Synthesis; X-ray absorption fine structure; PACS; 81.07.De; 81.16.Be; 68.55.A-.