ApNano Materials, Inc., a provider of nanotechnology-based products, today announced a major breakthrough in the production of the company's unique, inorganic tungsten disulfide (WS2) nanotubes in industrial quantities.
The synthetic route developed opens new doors to large scale production of such nanotubes for a variety of commercial markets. The inorganic nanotubes have exhibited revolutionary chemical and physical properties that enable a wide range of applications.
Inorganic WS2 nanotubes are a ultra-strong impact resistant material making them excellent candidates for producing bullet proof vests, helmets, car bumpers, high strength glues and binders, and other personal safety equipment for saving lives and preventing injuries. The unique nanotubes are up to 4-5 times stronger than steel and about 6 times stronger than Kevlar, a popular material used for bullet proof vests.
In addition to ballistic protection materials and polymer composites, WS2 nanotubes can be implemented in nanoelectronics, fuel cells, ultra-filtration membranes and catalysts. For example, since these nanotubes are semi-conductors they can be used in products such as advanced high resolution flat panel displays and as tips for atomic force microscopes (AFMs). The optical properties of the inorganic nanotubes enable numerous other applications in the fields of nanolithography, photocatalysis and other fields.
The nanotubes are relatively long with respect to their diameter and it is this high aspect ratio property that gives them their unique strength and chemical properties. Laboratory experiments conducted by Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Harold Kroto and his colleagues have demonstrated that ApNano’s nanotubes are strong enough to withstand a pressure of 21 GPa (Gigapascal) – the equivalent of 210 tons per square centimeter, Dimensions are up to 150 microns in length and 30 to 180 nanometers in diameter. In fact the diameters of these nanotubes are so small that a thousand of them can fit across the width of a single human hair.
“The synthesis of the WS2 and other inorganic nanotubes was investigated by Prof. Reshef Tenne at the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS), Israel, during the last 16 years. These investigations resulted in the synthesis of a few milligrams of pure nanotubes or mixture of nanotubes with flat and spherical nanoparticles,” said Dr. Alla Zak, Chief Scientist of ApNano Materials. “The process, however, was extremely difficult to scale up. Based on this knowledge, ApNano Materials elaborated a new design for a reactor which enables the production of pure WS2 nanotubes in commercial quantities. This new process also eliminates the most problematic part of conventional nanotubes synthesis – the need to separate the nanotubes from the rest of the material. In ApNano’s novel reactor pure nanotubes have been obtained. I am confident that further optimization of the synthetic process will result in additional increases in nanotube production."
“The new breakthrough in synthesizing WS2 nanotubes is another milestone in our continued strategy and efforts to offer unique nanotechnology-based product lines,” said Dr. Menachem Genut, President and CEO of ApNano Materials. “In addition to new products, we are constantly searching for new methods that will enable us to enhance bulk production processes.” Dr. Genut was a research fellow in the original research group which discovered the inorganic nanoparticles and the inorganic nanotubes at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, and first to synthesize the new material. The group was led by Professor Reshef Tenne, currently the Director of Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Nanoscale Science at the Weizmann Institute.
“Our inorganic nanotubes address very fast growing markets. It will open new opportunities for ApNano Materials, with the potential for generating considerable revenues,” said Aharon Feuerstein, ApNano Materials’ Chairman and CFO.
In addition to nanotubes, ApNano Materials produces other particles of tungsten disulfide that have a structure of nested spheres, called inorganic fullerenes, which lubricate mainly by rolling like miniature ball bearings and by the formation of tribofilms on the surfaces of the moving parts. According to Dr. Niles Fleischer, VP of Business and Product Development, “When used as an additive to liquid oil or grease, the inorganic fullerenes significantly enhance the lubricating properties of the fluid with respect to wear and friction by an order of magnitude versus the same lubricant without this additive”. Based on the inorganic fullerenes, ApNano Materials developed NanoLub®, the world’s first commercial nanotechnology-based solid lubricant. NanoLub-based enhanced lubricants are being sold in various markets around the world today.