Novel chemical routes to hierarchical hexagonal boron nitride nanomaterials

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Materials


The focus of this work is to establish novel chemical means to generate hierarchical structures of or containing hexagonal boron nitride nanomaterials. Hexagonal boron nitride nanomaterials are of interest for a wide range of applications that require lightweight, strong, and electrically insulating properties. Until recently the availability of hexagonal boron nitride nanostructures was limited. The Nanomaterials by Design research team has made much progress with the larger scale production of hexagonal boron nitride multi-wall nanotubes, hence paving the way to engineering novel functional materials containing hexagonal boron nitride nanotubes.

By creating hierarchical nanostructures containing different building blocks, such as nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanosheets of different chemistries, it is possible to engineer multifunctional materials that can address different technological challenges. Such hierarchical nanomaterials can also be embedded in composite materials. For example, composite materials that are lightweight, strong, and thermally conducting yet electrically insulating. Materials with these properties are highly sought for next generation battery applications, automotive industries, aeronautics, and space applications.

In order to achieve optimum filler matrix interaction, the surface chemistry of the filler materials need to be adapted to match the matrix materials. The novelty of the research methodology lies in developing novel chemical approaches to the functionalisation of hexagonal boron nitride materials, matching those with other nanomaterial systems, and matrix materials. State-of-the-art chemical functionalisation and characterisation will be employed to evaluate the interaction of the individual building blocks and the properties of the resulting hierarchical structures and their composites. Various production techniques and combinations of these will be explored including hydrothermal methods, chemical vapour deposition techniques, and wet chemistry.

The research group has a range of industrial collaborators and specific potential applications will be sought once progress has been made with the tailored functionalisation of hexagonal nanomaterials. Traditionally, the students of the Nanomaterials of Design research group are encouraged to engage with academic collaborators as well as industry partners whenever feasible.

This research project falls within the EPSRC Energy, Engineering, Healthcare technologies, Manufacturing the future, Physical sciences research areas.


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