Unusual Tubes Emerge from Boron Nitride
Schmidt, Karen F., Science News
Chemists seeking an alternative method for making boron nitride - a substance used to create hard, diamond-like materials, face powders, and fibers for composite materials - have discovered a new form of the material: microscopic tubes.
"At this point, I think the tubular form is a curiosity," says Sheldon G. Shore, one of the group of chemists at Ohio State University in Columbus who found the tubules. "But it does suggest the possibility that carbon is not the only element that can be made into tubes."
Scientists aiming ultimately to make microscopically thin wires succeeded recently in making superstrong nanometer-size tubes from carbon (SN: 4/3/93, p. 214). Boron compounds often resemble those made of carbon (SN: 6/20/92, p.406).
Shore and his co-workers were surprised to see these boron nitride tubes, for two reasons. First, the tubes emerged out of boron nitride's amorphous phase in an ordered, parallel alignment. Second, the boron nitride tubes were about 100 times larger than their carbon counterparts and, unlike them, apparently formed without the aid of a catalyst. …