Boron nitride nanotubes can withstand temperatures up to 900 degrees Celsius. Within the next decade, planes could be capable of traveling across the country by hypersonic flight in less than an hour – all it would take is some boron nitride.
A key factor for a vehicle to maintain extremely high speeds is the intense amount of heat generated during travel; for example, the now-retired supersonic Concorde aircraft experienced temperatures of up to 260°F at its lazy cruising speed of 1,534 miles per hour.
The materials used to build these aircraft must also be able to withstand very high heat, in addition to being structurally stable and lightweight.
A study conducted by researchers from NASA and Binghamton University investigated the properties of nanotubes made using boron nitride, a combination of boron and nitrogen.
Currently, carbon nanotubes are used in aircraft due to their strength and ability to withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees Celsius.
According to Binghamton University Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Changhong Ke, coating an aircraft with BNNTs would run a very high price tag.