Atomic shape shifting provides clues for next gen electronics

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Scientists at Yale have discovered a new form, or allotrope, of elemental boron - a material stronger than steel with the potential to revolutionize electronics.

These composite materials, atomically thin and with the highest possible surface-to-mass ratios, could prove valuable for the development of the next generation of high-speed electronics and a host of practical applications.

First theorized in the mid-1990s, the actual synthesis of borophene had defied scientists for almost two decades.

Researchers at Yale and the Brookhaven National Laboratory previously tackled this problem by producing ‘large’ flakes of borophene on copper – in this case, one atom thick sheets that were about 100 square micrometers in area.

The same team has taken the next step, discovering another new allotrope of boron, this time by having the copper polished to produce atoms at the surface arranged in a square lattice. Previously, it had been thought that borophene would not form on anything other than a hexagonal surface.

Published in Nature Chemistry, the discovery by the groups of Ivan Bozovic, member of the Yale Energy Sciences Institute, and professor of Applied Physics Sohrab Ismaili-Beigi, demonstrates that the choice of the substrate, and even of its orientation, enables different tuning of the crystal structure and physical properties of borophene.

The work provides new possibilities for creating novel electronic states, with potential applications in electronics, quantum computing, superconductivity, and catalysis.

The paper’s first author, Rongting Wu, is a postdoctoral associate in Applied Physics at Yale.