Material knowledge to keep you ahead of the curve - Issue #5  |  View in Browser

In the news:
Technology à Porter, Boron Nitride Nanotubes,
and Materials That Open in the Heat of the Moment



In this month’s newsletter, we take a look at the growing use of technology in the clothes we wear, the extraordinary potential of boron nitride nanotubes, and a temperature-controllable material with an impressive range of future applications.


Technology à Porter

Looking to move beyond fitness trackers and smart bicycle helmets in your quest for the latest and greatest wearable technology? Consider the following.


Colour-changing fabric
Researchers at the University of Central Florida have developed ChroMorphous, a colour-changing e-textile that incorporates special pigments and a metal micro-wire into each thread. The pigments respond to changes in temperature caused by an electric current – controlled by the wearer via a smartphone app – changing colours and patterns on demand.


Sleepwear … and more … that collects medical data
The OMsignal line of everyday apparel captures biosignals through nearly invisible sensors that are imbedded in the apparel itself. A small module clipped onto the clothing sends data in real time to the wearer’s smartphone, where the data can be used live in an app and also streamed directly to the Cloud for further analysis using advanced machine learning algorithms.


Self-cleaning clothes
This is the one we’ve all been waiting for! Materials engineers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia grew 3D copper and silver nanostructures – known for their ability to absorb visible light – on cotton thread that was then woven into fabric. When the nanostructures were exposed to light, they received an energy boost that created “hot electrons.” These “hot electrons” released a burst of energy that enabled the nanostructures to degrade organic matter. RMIT researchers are still working on getting this technology out of the lab and into the mainstream, but the future looks very promising.

Boron Nitride Nanotubes (BNNTs): Key to the 4th Industrial Revolution?  

There is growing evidence that the answer is yes.


Although similar to carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in features including light weight, mechanical strength and stability, some properties of BNNTs are distinctly different:

  • Whereas CNTs can be metallic or semiconducting, a BNNT is an electrical insulator with a bandgap of ~5.5 eV.
  • A layered BN structure is much more thermally and chemically stable than a graphitic carbon structure.
  • BNNTs demonstrate superior thermal and chemical stability compared to CNTs and have 200,000 times higher thermal neutron absorption capacity than that of CNTs.


 These differences offer immediate advantages in a range of industries, including:

  • IT – As a solution to the heat-dissipation issue resulting from the miniaturisation of electronic components
  • Nuclear and space – For the creation of high-temperature structural materials
  • Biomedical – For potential use as a drug delivery agent as well as a drug target
  • Energy – As a desalination membrane, providing faster and more efficient desalination than currently available


If you would like more information about the properties and potential of boron nitride nanotubes, feel free to contact our technical team at


Materials That Open in the Heat of the Moment

Kyoto University researchers have designed a temperature-controllable, copper-based material for sieving or storing gases, but with potential in a wide variety of energy, medical and environmental applications.


They formed a porous coordination polymer of copper atoms linked by butterfly-shaped ligands, resulting in a material composed of tiny nanocages, each with eight protruding channels. At very low temperatures, the channels connecting the nanocages were so narrow that they were effectively closed. As the temperature increased, the channels progressively widened, allowing gas molecules to move between the cages.


Among other findings, the Kyoto researchers observed that when they applied gas mixtures to the material, they could separate the gases based on the temperature applied.

To learn more, click here.

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