Cubic Boron Nitride (BN) Nanopowder
Purity: 99.5% Size: < 250 nm
Cubic boron nitride has a crystal structure analogous to that of diamond. Consistent with diamond being less stable than graphite, the cubic form is less stable than the hexagonal form, but the conversion rate between the two is negligible at room temperature, as it is for diamond. The cubic form has the sphalerite crystal structure, the same as that of diamond, and is also called β-BN or c-BN.
Black solid in various forms
3.45 g/cm3 (c-BN)
Solubility in H2O
1.8 (h-BN); 2.1 (c-BN)
13 to 15 10x Ω-m
840 to 1610 J/kg-K
29 to 96 W/m-K
0.54 to 18 µm/m-K
14 to 60 GPa
PREPARATION OF CUBIC BORON NITRIDE
Synthesis of c-BN uses same methods as that of diamond: Cubic boron nitride is produced by treating hexagonal boron nitride at high pressure and temperature, much as synthetic diamond is produced from graphite. Direct conversion of hexagonal boron nitride to the cubic form has been observed at pressures between 5 and 18 GPa and temperatures between 1730 and 3230 °C, that is similar parameters as for direct graphite-diamond conversion. The addition of a small amount of boron oxide can lower the required pressure to 4–7 GPa and temperature to 1500 °C. As in diamond synthesis, to further reduce the conversion pressures and temperatures, a catalyst is added, such as lithium, potassium, or magnesium, their nitrides, their fluoronitrides, water with ammonium compounds, or hydrazine.Other industrial synthesis methods, again borrowed from diamond growth, use crystal growth in a temperature gradient, or explosive shock wave. The shock wave method is used to produce material called heterodiamond, a superhard compound of boron, carbon, and nitrogen.
Low-pressure deposition of thin films of cubic boron nitride is possible. As in diamond growth, the major problem is to suppress the growth of hexagonal phases (h-BN or graphite, respectively). Whereas in diamond growth this is achieved by adding hydrogen gas, boron trifluoride is used for c-BN. Ion beam deposition, plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition, pulsed laser deposition, reactive sputtering, and other physical vapor deposition methods are used as well.
Applications of CBN
Cubic boron nitride (CBN or c-BN) is widely used as an abrasive. Its usefulness arises from its insolubility in iron, nickel, and related alloys at high temperatures, whereas diamond is soluble in these metals. Polycrystalline c-BN (PCBN) abrasives are therefore used for machining steel, whereas diamond abrasives are preferred for aluminum alloys, ceramics, and stone. When in contact with oxygen at high temperatures, BN forms a passivation layer of boron oxide. Boron nitride binds well with metals, due to formation of interlayers of metal borides or nitrides. Materials with cubic boron nitride crystals are often used in the tool bits of cutting tools. For grinding applications, softer binders, e.g. resin, porous ceramics, and soft metals, are used. Ceramic binders can be used as well. Commercial products are known under names "Borazon" (by Diamond Innovations), and "Elbor" or "Cubonite" (by Russian vendors). Contrary to diamond, large c-BN pellets can be produced in a simple process (called sintering) of annealing c-BN powders in nitrogen flow at temperatures slightly below the BN decomposition temperature. This ability of c-BN and h-BN powders to fuse allows cheap production of large BN parts. Similar to diamond, the combination in c-BN of highest thermal conductivity and electrical resistivity is ideal for heat spreaders. As cubic boron nitride consists of light atoms and is very robust chemically and mechanically, it is one of the popular materials for X-ray membranes: low mass results in small X-ray absorption, and good mechanical properties allow usage of thin membranes, thus further reducing the absorption.