The invention provides crystalline nanoscale particles and tubes made from a variety of stoichiometries of B.sub.xC.sub.YN.sub.z where x, y, and z indicate a relative amount of each element compared to the others and where no more than one of x, y, or z are zero for a single stoichiometry. The nanotubes and nanoparticles are useful as miniature electronic components, such as wires, coils, schotky barriers, diodes, etc. The nanotubes and nanoparticles are also useful as coating that will protect an item from detection by electromagnetic monitoring techniques like radar. The nanotubes and nanoparticles are additionally useful for their mechanical properties, being comparable in strength and stiffness to the best graphite fibers or carbon nanotubes. The inventive nanoparticles are useful in lubricants and composites.
 This invention was made with U.S. Government support under Contract No. DE-AC03-76SF00098 between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. The U.S. Government may have certain rights in this invention.