Better Nanotubes Have Arrived

Newport News, VA: BNNT, LLC has announced the availability of their new boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs).   BNNTs are as strong as their more famous cousin carbon nanotubes, but are superior in many ways.  For example, they have a much higher resistance to heat, high voltage, and neutron radiation.  “These nanotubes were originally developed to protect astronauts from dangerous space radiation on long duration missions,” said BNNT Chief Scientist Mike Smith, a 20 year NASA veteran, “but we expect they’ll have tremendous commercial impact across many high tech industries like green energy, high performance electronics, exotic structural materials, and biomedicine.”

The company licensed the foundational synthesis technology from laboratories located in the Hampton Roads area, and then over the course of a 1 year R&D scale-up program improved the production rate by about 500%.  Unlike most nanotube products, which occur in powder form, the new BNNTs are cotton-like in appearance.  At the molecular scale they are thin, about 3 – 5 nm in diameter, highly crystalline, few-walled, and have extremely high aspect ratios (approaching one million). 

Many high-value applications have been proposed for BNNTs, but development has been limited by product availability. Applications include membranes that generate power from seawater, suits shielding first responders, protective thermal coatings for high-speed aerospace vehicles, strength-enhancing fillers for additive manufacturing, power plant carbon sequestration filters, and drugs and therapies that improve cancer treatments.


BNNT, LLC is a startup company based in Newport News, Virginia that has been established to manufacture BNNTs for scientific investigations, commercial product R&D, and commercial products. Key staff members include the developers who invented the new processes.

Synthesis technologies licensed by BNNT, LLC, were developed jointly by NASA’s Langley Research Center, the U. S. Department of Energy’s Jefferson Lab (managed and operated by Jefferson Science Associates, LLC), and the National Institute of Aerospace, a non-profit research and graduate education institute formed by a consortium of major universities that serves as a strategic partner of NASA and the aerospace community. 

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