Boron Buckyball discovered; but why is it so important?

Boron Buckyball discovered; but why is it so important?

After 30 years of discovery of carbon buckyball, researchers have found cluster of boron atoms also forming something similar to a buckyball. A collection of atoms of carbon, in shape of a soccer ball, has been termed as buckyball by scientists. It is considered as an important discovery as buckyball led to impressive research in the field of nanotechnology.

Researchers from Brown University, Shanxi University and Tsinghua University in China have discovered 40 boron atoms forming an interesting cage structure, similar to carbon buckyball. The arrangement of boron atoms has been termed as ‘borospherene’ by the research team. The study results have been published in journal Nature Chemistry.

Carbon buckyballs led to discovery of carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes find use in variety of applications. Carbon buckyballs constitute of various pentagons and hexagons, giving it an interesting structure having 60 atoms of carbon.

As boron has one electron less than carbon, a different arrangement of atoms was required in this case to offer stability. The research team led by professor Lai-Sheng Wang from Brown University added that a cluster of 36 boron atoms can be used to make one-atom-thick sheet similar to graphene. Graphene has been termed as the next big thing in the world of technology as it is very light material, having very good conductivity and can be used in electronic circuits.

Professor Wang and his team has modeled over 10,000 arrangement of 40 boron atoms. The research could provide valuable lead for further development of materials.

Professor Wang added, “For us, just to be the first to have observed this, that’s a pretty big deal. Of course if it turns out to be useful that would be great, but we don’t know yet. Hopefully this initial finding will stimulate further interest in boron clusters and new ideas to synthesize them in bulk quantities.”

Boron buckyballs and borophene can find applications in many fields. The boron cages can be used to store hydrogen. More research is required on the subject and we can expect similar structure in some other element groups as well.

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