Enhanced Hydrolytic Stability of Porous Boron Nitride via the Control of Crystallinity, Porosity and Chemical Composition

Porous boron nitride is gaining significant attention for applications in molecular separations, photocatalysis, and drug delivery. All these areas call for a high degree of stability (or a controlled stability) over a range of chemical environments, and particularly under humid conditions. The hydrolytic stability of the various forms of boron nitride, including porous boron nitride, has been sparingly addressed in the literature. Here, we map the physical-chemical properties of the material to its hydrolytic stability for a range of conditions. Using analytical, imaging and spectroscopic techniques, we identify the links between the hydrolytic instability of porous boron nitride and its limited crystallinity, high porosity as well as the presence of oxygen atoms. To address this instability issue, we demonstrate that subjecting the material to a thermal treatment leads to the formation of crystalline domains of h-BN exhibiting a hydrophobic character. The heat-treated sample exhibits enhanced hydrolytic stability, while maintaining a high porosity. This work provides an effective and simple approach to producing stable porous boron nitride structures, and will progress the implementation of the material in applications involving interfacial phenomena.<br>