Move over graphene—boron now used to make 2D semi-metals

The structure of a borophene cluster. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Graphene is an exceptionally strong and conductive material composed of a single atomic layer of carbon. Its discovery sparked interest in the development of other two-dimensional (2D) materials, and, over the past decade, scientists have discovered hundreds. These materials boast abilities that could make a noticeable impact in areas such as electronics, thermal management, filtration, medicine, and more.

Now, an unusual atom—boron—has been used to produce a novel 2D material called "borophene."

Boron at the atomic level

Boron is one of the many materials that has been considered for development of 2D materials. Boron is an interesting atom to use as a building block for a number of reasons. First, it is a semi-metal, meaning it exhibits some properties of metals and some properties of nonmetals; as a 2D material, it thus has the potential to exhibit unique behavior.

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