Borophene: A very promising 2D material

December 17, 2015

"Borophene", a two-dimensional layer of boron atoms, holds the electronic properties which researchers try to implement in graphene – and even more.

In the latest issue of Science, Hermann Sachdev, a researcher from Professor Müllen’s department at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz, Germany discusses the outlooks of borophene layers. Borophene - now experimentally proven to exist - consists of a two-dimensional layer of boron atoms and has a structure similar to graphene. It shows electronic properties comparable with those of graphene. Its strongly bound atoms make it resistant to mechanical impact. With remarkable properties, this material will possibly play a key role in future 2D materials research and thin film technology.

Detail of a 2D borophene layer

In the periodic system, boron is located between metallic beryllium and nonmetallic carbon which classifies it as a semimetal. It displays a pronounced ability to form not only stable electron-deficient bonds, but also strong covalent bonds. The latter are responsible for boron and borides being among the hardest materials known. The 2D borophene layers can be considered as an intermediate between fully covalently bound graphene and substrate stabilized 2D materials like silicene or germanene. The borophene band structure can be easily tuned by e.g. substrate interactions or surface modifications. “With these properties, borophene could soon find its way into new applications – ranging for example from electronic sensors and semiconductors to tribological devices”, says Herman Sachdev. It indeed looks like a very promising material yet its synthesis is currently more complicated than that of graphene and requires further investigation. Borophene will not become the material of choice to replace graphene in bulk applications like batteries or inks. However it will definitely have its share in the semiconductor device technology and tribology, the science of surfaces interacting in motion.

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