Boron atoms just got buckyballed. With a bit of coaxing from lasers and helium, clusters of 40 boron atoms arranged themselves into hollow cages similar to the nanoscale soccer-ball shape of carbon buckyballs.
Scientists had previously predicted that boron atoms could take the shape of a buckyball, but the first observations of the new molecule show that it has a slightly different structure than expected.
The boron “buckyball” is made of 40 boron atoms instead of 80, as predicted, and the atoms are arranged in triangles, hexagons and heptagons rather than the pentagons and hexagons of a carbon buckyball, researchers report July 13 in Nature Chemistry. The molecule could be used to make new boron nanomaterials or possibly even store hydrogen, the scientists say.