Working to Planar BoronCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: February 15, 2013 08:39AM
Some describe graphene as a wonder material because of its numerous, fantastic properties including strength, flexibility, and conductivity. It is not the first material to be given that title though, and likely will not be the last. One possible wonder-material of the future though is having a hard time escaping theory and entering the lab, but researchers at Rice University are trying to find it an exit.
Boron is the element with one less proton than carbon, so some of their properties are similar. For example, according to theory a 2D plane of boron should be able to conduct electricity better than its carbon counterpart, and it should be able to do so with some imperfections, such as missing atoms. The structure would be a tessellation of triangles instead of hexagons, and if one boron atom is missing the material's properties will not change. Unfortunately boron does not like to have a 2D structure. Graphene actually represents a global energy minimum for carbon, which means it is stable and you would have to add energy to change the structure, but this is not the case for boron, so it tries to form 3D clumps.
The Rice researchers have a plan though and crunched the numbers to find that the best method to create 2D boron sheets utilizes chemical vapor deposition and a silver or gold substrate. Coincidentally and fortunately, this is similar to a method for producing graphene, so what researchers have learned about graphene fabrication should help them produce 2D boron.
Source: Rice University