Sarah: Lovers of carbon nanotubes as I know you all are, it’s time to move over and make way for boron……or so say Jun Ni and his research team in Beijing, China. Boron is the 5th element in the periodic table, having the chemical symbol B (carbon, C, is the 6th element). As would be expected from their divergent periodic groupings, boron nanotubes assemble with a different chemistry to those of carbon. Rather than forming the classic ‘chicken-wire’ pattern, boron atoms are naturally inclined to form a buckled triangular latticework. However, theoretical modelling by Ni and his colleagues has allowed them to predict that adding an extra atom to the centre of some hexagons in the unstable ‘carbon-like’ boron lattice would confer the nanostructure with enough stability to be used commercially. Boron nanotubes of differing diameters are predicted to have a range of possible applications, largely as a result of varied electrical properties; wide tubes should be metallic conductors and perhaps even superconductors at high temperatures. Narrow tubes would offer value in the form of semiconductors. The next step in the boron nanotube story is to find an effective catalyst for production by chemical vapour deposition. Personally, I find all this chemistry talk really exciting….hope none of you found this blog too boron-ing. [Image courtesy of New Scientist]
Originally published on Blog@NanoVic for Nanotechnology Victoria.