Research into Boron Nanosheets leads to an Electrifying Discovery

Amorphous boron is a nonmetallic element that is often used in rockets as a fuel source and for certain pyrotechnic flares that produce a green tinted flame. It is rarely found in pure form with compounds such as boric acid, sodium borate aka. borax, and boric oxide. Common uses for boron over the years have been things like tile glazes, several brands of eyedrops and antiseptics, and washing powders and detergents. Boron also has the highest melting point of any metalloid, at a toasty 3771°F (2077°C). Interestingly, Turkey and the United States contain the largest deposits of borax and the compound is considered a nutrition element for plants. 

Recently scientists were able to synthesize 2D boron monosulfide (BS) nanosheets which led to interesting discoveries about the electrical properties of these single-atom layers of material. The researchers fabricated boron sulfide in a 1:1 ratio with a crystalline structure and stripped off layers that maintained the arrangement. The resulting nanosheets had a large bandgap energy, the material’s ability to conduct current, much greater than that of the base material. They also observed that as more layers were stacked together, the overall bandgap of the material decreased, until it ultimately reached that of the bulk material after approximately five sheets. Scientists believe that these properties could lend well to creating highly conductive, and tunable electrical components. 

Other 2D boron compounds do not exhibit the same responses, making 2D BS unique, and applications for such materials had previously only been speculative. The differing bandgap structures also respond to different electromagnetic wavelengths. The bulk material required lower energy levels (in the visible light range), the nanosheets only activated under wavelengths in the ultraviolet range. This secondary phenomenon implies that the nanosheets can possibly be used in photocatalytic devices, and the number of sheets would allow for fine control of the electrical properties. 

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