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Getting Stuffed Improves Stability Of Boron Fullerenes

May 5, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 18

Adding to the growing theoretical collection of boron analogs of fullerenes, chemists have postulated that a new family of boron clusters stuffed with a few extra boron atoms should be more stable than the previously hypothesized champion of stability, B80. Because boron in many ways resembles carbon in its properties—except in having one fewer electron—chemists have long been intrigued by the possibilities of creating graphitelike and fullerene-like boron materials. Chemists are still working out how to make the compounds, so most research in the area is done on a computer. Eluvathingal D. Jemmis at the Indian Institute of Science, in Bangalore, India, and colleagues used density functional theory to determine the electronic structure and geometries of buckyball-esque boron clusters (Phys. Rev. Lett. 2008, 100, 165504). Their clusters are built upon a base unit of B84, rather than B80. B84 is a ball-shaped framework with an icosahedral B12 unit inserted in the middle. The B84 model has the same symmetry as the C60 fullerene, but B84 requires 50 more electrons to make it stable. By distributing additional boron atoms at various sites around the B84 molecule, the authors found several configurations—from B98 to B102—that are predicted to have greater stability than B80.


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