Scientists elucidate the crystal structure of sodium boride

March 28, 2018, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology
Skoltech Professor Artem Oganov Credit: Skoltech

An international team of scientists jointly with Professor Artem Oganov of Skoltech and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology report the chemical composition, crystal structure and properties of Na2B30 ‒ a compound that remains stable at standard conditions and has long been the subject of heated debate. The results of the study were published in Physical Review B.

Boron is a unique element capable of forming complex crystal modifications, all of which are super-hard. Moreover, boron and metal compounds ‒ borides ‒ often have highly complex chemical compositions and crystal structures that cannot always be uniquely determined through experiment. Many borides display remarkable features of superhard, superconducting, or .

In the paper published in Physical Review B, the scientists looked at sodium borides at standard conditions. Using Oganov's USPEX structure predictor, they proved that Na2B30 is stable and Na2B29 is not, and finally reconciled the research teams arguing about which formula is right ‒ Na2B30 or Na2B29. It was demonstrated that adding a single atom has a dramatic impact on both the stability and electronic properties, transforming a metal into a semiconductor and making the material much harder. The compound is potentially super-hard and can exist at standard conditions. Moreover, the researchers proposed a new boasting higher stability and the same consistency with the experimental data as compared to its earlier version.

"This study may compete with a detective novel in the number of mysteries to puzzle out. It turns out that everyone had wrong ideas, whether of the formula or the . What always surprises me in such stories is that we keep talking about the 21st century with its advanced science and engineering and virtually unlimited capabilities, but sometimes have a vague idea about a substance under normal conditions. It is good to remember that such substances can have highly interesting technological applications," said Oganov.

Explore further: Scientists predict new high-energy compounds

More information: Xin-Ling He et al. Predicting the ground-state structure of sodium boride, Physical Review B (2018). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.97.100102

Related Stories

Scientists predict new high-energy compounds

February 14, 2017

Using theoretical methods, an international group of scientists led by Artem R. Oganov, Professor of Skoltech, Stony Brook University and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology predicted unusual nitrides of hafnium and ...

Scientists gain insights into 'forbidden' chemistry

February 11, 2016

Gabriele Saleh, a research fellow at MIPT, and Prof. Artem Oganov, a Laboratory Supervisor at MIPT and Professor at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), have discovered what causes the stability of ...

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.