Adsorption enhancement of nitrogen gas by atomically heterogeneous nanospace of boron nitride†
In this study, porous boron nitride (p-BN) with hexagonal phase boron nitride (h-BN) pore walls was synthesized using high-temperature calcination. Negligible variation in pore-wall structure can be observed in powder X-ray diffraction (XRD) profiles and infrared (IR) spectra. However, a highly stable p-BN with a stable pore structure even at 973 K under the oxidative conditions is obtained when synthesized at higher than 1573 K under nitrogen gas flow. For p-BN, this stability is obtained by generating h-BN microcrystals. Nitrogen adsorption–desorption isotherms at 77 K provide type-IV features and typical adsorption–desorption hysteresis, which suggests micropore and mesopore formation. Moreover, adsorption–desorption isotherms of Ar at 87 K are measured and compared with those of nitrogen. The relative adsorbed amount of nitrogen (i.e., the amount of nitrogen normalized by that of Ar at each relative pressure or adsorption potential value) on p-BN is considerably larger than that on microporous carbon at low-pressure regions, which suggests the existence of strong adsorption sites on the p-BN surface. In fact, the relative number of adsorbed nitrogen molecules to that of Ar on p-BN is, at most, 150%–200% larger than that on microporous carbon for the same adsorption potential state. Furthermore, additional adsorption enhancement to nitrogen between P/P0 = 10−5 and 10−3 can be observed for p-BN treated at 1673 K, which suggests the uniformly adsorbed layer formation of nitrogen molecules in the vicinity of a basal planar surface. Thus, unlike typical nanoporous sp2 carbons, p-BN materials have the potential to enhance adsorption for certain gas species because of their unique surface state.