A new chapter in science - David Bradburn
The most common sources of boron that we might know about are tourmaline, borax, and kermite, in its amorphouse phase boron is a brown powder and in its crystalline phase it is black, very hard, with a melting point above 2000c. It is a poor conductor of electricity at room temperature and often finds application as a dopant in the semiconductor industry.
Boron is not as well characterized as you might expect, partly due to its general inertness and lack of abundance, but this is all about to change as a team of scientists in Germany [Braunschweig et al., Science, (2012), 336, 1420] have found a way to form a triple bonded boron molecule, characterized using crystallographic and spectroscopic analysis. This discovery means boron will join an elite club of carbon and nitrogen and become one of the few elements to form stable triple bonds.
Even though boron hasn't been so well investigated, a team back in 2002 reported the formation of a boron to boron triple bond stabilized by CO groups at either end [Zhou et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc., (2002), 124, 12936]. Unfortunately the new moiety was not stable above temperatures of -263c. Braunschweig's triple bonded molecule by comparison is stable up to 234c under inert conditions; which is a great improvement on the earlier isolated species.
The team of scientists plan to study further the reactions by trying to react the molecule with small molecules such as hydrogen and carbon monoxide. like its periodic neighbour we might be witnessing the dawn of a new breed of material.
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Posted 04/07/2012 by Materials Today
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