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Posted: January 4, 2008

Boron nanotubes could outperform carbon

(Nanowerk News) Carbon may be losing its monopoly over the nanoworld. According to the latest calculations, tubes built out of the element boron could have many of the same properties as carbon nanotubes, the ubiquitous components of nanoengineering. And for some electronic applications, they should even be better than carbon.
Boron nanotubes will have a more complicated shape than the simple linked hexagons that work for carbon, as the chemistry of boron makes that chicken-wire pattern unstable. The first boron nanotubes to be created, in 2004, are thought to be formed from a buckled triangular latticework.
But according to Xiaobao Yang, Yi Ding and Jun Ni from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China ("Ab initio prediction of stable boron sheets and boron nanotubes: Structure, stability, and electronic properties"), the best configuration for boron is to take the unstable hexagon lattice and add an extra atom to the centre of some of the hexagons. They calculate that this is the most stable known theoretical structure for a boron nanotube.
Their simulation also shows that, with this pattern, boron nanotubes should have variable electrical properties: wider ones would be metallic conductors, but narrower ones should be semiconductors. If so, then boron tubes might be used in nanodevices similar to the diodes and transistors that have already been made from carbon nanotubes, says Ni.
Read the full article in New Scientist Tech.
Source: New Scientist Tech
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