Issue Date: April 30, 2007
Boron buckyball predicted to be stable
Theorists at Rice University have predicted that a fullerene-like cage molecule consisting of 80 boron atoms would be "unusually stable" and "likely to appear as a result of self-assembly of boron atoms" (Phys. Rev. Lett. 2007, 98, 166804). "To our knowledge, this is the most stable boron cage studied so far," says the team led by Boris I. Yakobson. The architecture of the boron buckyball (shown) is similar to that of the fullerene C60. But B80 has an additional atom in the center of each hexagon. The Rice team examined a number of boron clusters of different sizes and concluded that B80 is the lowest energy structure, Yakobson tells C&EN. But after reading the paper, Lai-Sheng Wang, who studies boron clusters at Washington State University, Richland, says, "I cannot see how one can be sure" that the B80 cage is the lowest energy structure. B80 clusters can be prepared in his lab via self-assembly, Wang notes, but it would be quite challenging to determine what structure they actually assume.
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