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One-Dimensional Boron Chains: Weirder Than Graphene

1 Dimensional Boron chain. Credit: Rice University
Researchers have just simulated a stretched out, one-dimensional (1D) chain of boron, predicting that the material could have even weirder properties than graphene.
1D boron chains haven’t been created as yet – so far, this research is purely based on detailed computer simulations of the new material.
But labs have already successfully synthesised atom-thick and fullerene – cage-like buckyball – forms of boron, and single-atom-thick-carbon chains known as carbyne (pictured above) have also been created. So the researchers predict it’s only a matter of time before 1D boron-atom chains become a reality too.
If that’s the case, we’re in for a treat, because the simulations show that when 1D forms of boron are made, they have some pretty incredible properties.
For example, when they’re stretched out, these metallic chains become antiferromangetic semiconductors.
While this work is still theoretical, it’s not that far outside the realms of possibility. The simulations were created by a team at Rice University and their track record is pretty good.

“Our work on carbyne and with planar boron got us thinking that a 1D chain of boron atoms is also a possible and intriguing structure,” said lead researcher Boris Yakobson.

“We wanted to know if it is stable and what the properties would be. That’s where modern theoretical-computational methods are impressive, because one can do pretty realistic assessments of non-existing structures.”

Unlike graphene, which is two-dimensional because it’s an entire sheet of one-atom-thick carbon, the boron structure that the Rice University team is simulating exists on just one dimension, because it’s made of either a chain of single atoms, or a ribbon of two-atoms.
Rather than being two separate structures, the ribbon and the chain are actually two well-defined phases of 1D boron.
That means that as 1D boron is stretched out, it transitions from a two-atom ribbon into a single-atom chain, and then transitions back again as the pressure is released.
Materials provided by Rice University

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