Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Researchers discover boron 'buckyball'

The carbon buckyball has a boron cousin. A cluster for 40 boron atoms forms a hollow cage-like molecule.
The carbon buckyball has a boron cousin. A cluster for 40 boron atoms forms a hollow cage-like molecule.

Abstract:
The discovery of buckyballs — soccer-ball-shaped molecules of carbon — helped usher in the nanotechnology era. Now, Lai-Sheng Wang's research group and colleagues from China have shown that boron, carbon's neighbor on the periodic table, can form a cage-like molecule similar to the buckyball. Until now, such a boron structure had only been a theoretical speculation. The researchers dubbed their newfound nanostructure "borospherene."

Researchers discover boron 'buckyball'

Providence, RI | Posted on July 14th, 2014

The discovery 30 years ago of soccer-ball-shaped carbon molecules called buckyballs helped to spur an explosion of nanotechnology research. Now, there appears to be a new ball on the pitch.

Researchers from Brown University, Shanxi University and Tsinghua University in China have shown that a cluster of 40 boron atoms forms a hollow molecular cage similar to a carbon buckyball. It's the first experimental evidence that a boron cage structure — previously only a matter of speculation — does indeed exist.

"This is the first time that a boron cage has been observed experimentally," said Lai-Sheng Wang, a professor of chemistry at Brown who led the team that made the discovery. "As a chemist, finding new molecules and structures is always exciting. The fact that boron has the capacity to form this kind of structure is very interesting."

Wang and his colleagues describe the molecule, which they've dubbed borospherene, in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Carbon buckyballs are made of 60 carbon atoms arranged in pentagons and hexagons to form a sphere — like a soccer ball. Their discovery in 1985 was soon followed by discoveries of other hollow carbon structures including carbon nanotubes. Another famous carbon nanomaterial — a one-atom-thick sheet called graphene — followed shortly after.

After buckyballs, scientists wondered if other elements might form these odd hollow structures. One candidate was boron, carbon's neighbor on the periodic table. But because boron has one less electron than carbon, it can't form the same 60-atom structure found in the buckyball. The missing electrons would cause the cluster to collapse on itself. If a boron cage existed, it would have to have a different number of atoms.

Wang and his research group have been studying boron chemistry for years. In a paper published earlier this year, Wang and his colleagues showed that clusters of 36 boron atoms form one-atom-thick disks, which might be stitched together to form an analog to graphene, dubbed borophene. Wang's preliminary work suggested that there was also something special about boron clusters with 40 atoms. They seemed to be abnormally stable compared to other boron clusters.

Figuring out what that 40-atom cluster actually looks like required a combination of experimental work and modeling using high-powered supercomputers.

On the computer, Wang's colleagues modeled over 10,000 possible arrangements of 40 boron atoms bonded to each other. The computer simulations estimate not only the shapes of the structures, but also estimate the electron binding energy for each structure — a measure of how tightly a molecule holds its electrons. The spectrum of binding energies serves as a unique fingerprint of each potential structure.

The next step is to test the actual binding energies of boron clusters in the lab to see if they match any of the theoretical structures generated by the computer. To do that, Wang and his colleagues used a technique called photoelectron spectroscopy.

Chunks of bulk boron are zapped with a laser to create vapor of boron atoms. A jet of helium then freezes the vapor into tiny clusters of atoms. The clusters of 40 atoms were isolated by weight then zapped with a second laser, which knocks an electron out of the cluster. The ejected electron flies down a long tube Wang calls his "electron racetrack." The speed at which the electrons fly down the racetrack is used to determine the cluster's electron binding energy spectrum — its structural fingerprint.

The experiments showed that 40-atom-clusters form two structures with distinct binding spectra. Those spectra turned out to be a dead-on match with the spectra for two structures generated by the computer models. One was a semi-flat molecule and the other was the buckyball-like spherical cage.

"The experimental sighting of a binding spectrum that matched our models was of paramount importance," Wang said. "The experiment gives us these very specific signatures, and those signatures fit our models."

The borospherene molecule isn't quite as spherical as its carbon cousin. Rather than a series of five- and six-membered rings formed by carbon, borospherene consists of 48 triangles, four seven-sided rings and two six-membered rings. Several atoms stick out a bit from the others, making the surface of borospherene somewhat less smooth than a buckyball.

As for possible uses for borospherene, it's a little too early to tell, Wang says. One possibility, he points out, could be hydrogen storage. Because of the electron deficiency of boron, borospherene would likely bond well with hydrogen. So tiny boron cages could serve as safe houses for hydrogen molecules.

But for now, Wang is enjoying the discovery.

"For us, just to be the first to have observed this, that's a pretty big deal," Wang said. "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."

The theoretical modeling was done with a group led by Prof. Si-Dian Li from Shanxi University and a group led by Prof. Jun Li from Tsinghua University. The work was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (CHE-1263745) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Kevin Stacey

401-863-3766

Copyright © Brown University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

QEOS and GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Offer Industry’s First CMOS Platform for MillimeterWave Markets: GLOBALSOLUTIONSSM Partnership will enable next-generation wireless technologies for applications in IoT, 5G and automotive September 3rd, 2015

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Catena Partner to Provide Next-Generation RF Connectivity Solutions for Growing Wireless Markets: Catena Wi-Fi and Bluetooth RF technologies available on GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm Super Low Power Process technology September 3rd, 2015

Making nanowires from protein and DNA September 3rd, 2015

Making fuel from light: Argonne research sheds light on photosynthesis and creation of solar fuel September 3rd, 2015

Graphene

For 2-D boron, it's all about that base: Rice University theorists show flat boron form would depend on metal substrates September 2nd, 2015

Phagraphene, a 'relative' of graphene, discovered September 2nd, 2015

Successful boron-doping of graphene nanoribbon August 27th, 2015

Chemistry

A new technique to make drugs more soluble August 28th, 2015

Nanocatalysts improve processes for the petrochemical industry August 28th, 2015

Researchers combine disciplines, computational programs to determine atomic structure August 26th, 2015

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

For 2-D boron, it's all about that base: Rice University theorists show flat boron form would depend on metal substrates September 2nd, 2015

$200K Awarded to Develop In Vitro Lung Test for Toxicity of Inhaled Nanomaterials: In Vitro Lung Test Designed to Protect Human Health and Replace Animal Testing September 1st, 2015

Developing Component Scale Composites Using Nanocarbons August 26th, 2015

Southampton scientists find new way to detect ortho-para conversion in water August 25th, 2015

Discoveries

QEOS and GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Offer Industry’s First CMOS Platform for MillimeterWave Markets: GLOBALSOLUTIONSSM Partnership will enable next-generation wireless technologies for applications in IoT, 5G and automotive September 3rd, 2015

Making nanowires from protein and DNA September 3rd, 2015

Making fuel from light: Argonne research sheds light on photosynthesis and creation of solar fuel September 3rd, 2015

Reversible Writing with Light: Self-assembling nanoparticles take their cues from their surroundings September 3rd, 2015

Materials/Metamaterials

Sustainable nanotechnology center September 1st, 2015

Using ultrathin sheets to discover new class of wrapped shapes: UMass Amherst materials researchers describe a new regime of wrapped shapes August 31st, 2015

An engineered surface unsticks sticky water droplets August 31st, 2015

New material science research may advance tech tools August 31st, 2015

Announcements

QEOS and GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Offer Industry’s First CMOS Platform for MillimeterWave Markets: GLOBALSOLUTIONSSM Partnership will enable next-generation wireless technologies for applications in IoT, 5G and automotive September 3rd, 2015

GLOBALFOUNDRIES and Catena Partner to Provide Next-Generation RF Connectivity Solutions for Growing Wireless Markets: Catena Wi-Fi and Bluetooth RF technologies available on GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28nm Super Low Power Process technology September 3rd, 2015

Making nanowires from protein and DNA September 3rd, 2015

Making fuel from light: Argonne research sheds light on photosynthesis and creation of solar fuel September 3rd, 2015

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Making nanowires from protein and DNA September 3rd, 2015

Making fuel from light: Argonne research sheds light on photosynthesis and creation of solar fuel September 3rd, 2015

Reversible Writing with Light: Self-assembling nanoparticles take their cues from their surroundings September 3rd, 2015

Silk bio-ink could help advance tissue engineering with 3-D printers September 2nd, 2015

Research partnerships

QEOS and GLOBALFOUNDRIES to Offer Industry’s First CMOS Platform for MillimeterWave Markets: GLOBALSOLUTIONSSM Partnership will enable next-generation wireless technologies for applications in IoT, 5G and automotive September 3rd, 2015

Turning clothing into information displays September 2nd, 2015

Sustainable nanotechnology center September 1st, 2015

$200K Awarded to Develop In Vitro Lung Test for Toxicity of Inhaled Nanomaterials: In Vitro Lung Test Designed to Protect Human Health and Replace Animal Testing September 1st, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic