Engineering

Have researchers found the best semiconductor of them all?

Silicon is one of the most abundant elements on Earth, and in its pure form the material has become the foundation of much of modern technology, from solar cells to computer chips. But silicon's properties as a semiconductor ...

Engineering

Blowing dust to cool fusion plasmas

Future tokamak fusion power reactors will generate heat beyond what current materials can withstand. Scientists have proposed various methods for cooling the edge of the magnetically confined fusion fuel, or plasma, to ...

Electronics & Semiconductors

Development of a diamond transistor with high hole mobility

Using a new fabrication technique, NIMS has developed a diamond field-effect transistor (FET) with high hole mobility, which allows reduced conduction loss and higher operational speed. This new FET also exhibits normally ...

Electronics & Semiconductors

A strategy to remotely modulate the doping of 2D transistors

When fabricating electronic devices based on conventional semiconducting materials, engineers need to complete a crucial step known as doping. Doping essentially entails the introduction of impurities into semiconductors ...

Electronics & Semiconductors

Novel heat-management material keeps computers running cool

UCLA engineers have demonstrated successful integration of a novel semiconductor material into high-power computer chips to reduce heat on processors and improve their performance. The advance greatly increases energy efficiency ...

Electronics & Semiconductors

Microchips of the future: Suitable insulators are still missing

For decades, there has been a trend in microelectronics towards ever smaller and more compact transistors. 2D materials such as graphene are seen as a beacon of hope here: they are the thinnest material layers that can possibly ...

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Boron

Boron ( /ˈbɔərɒn/) is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the water-solubility of its more common naturally occurring compounds, the borate minerals. These are mined industrially as evaporate ores, such as borax and kernite.

Chemically uncombined boron is not found naturally on Earth. Industrially, very pure boron is produced with difficulty, as boron tends to form refractory materials containing small amounts of carbon or other elements. Several allotropes of boron exist: amorphous boron is a brown powder and crystalline boron is black, extremely hard (about 9.5 on Mohs' scale), and a poor conductor at room temperature. Elemental boron is used as a dopant in the semiconductor industry.

The major industrial-scale uses of boron compounds are in sodium perborate bleaches, and the borax component of fiberglass insulation. Boron polymers and ceramics play specialized roles as high-strength lightweight structural and refractory materials. Boron compounds are used in silica-based glasses and ceramics to give them resistance to thermal shock. Boron-containing reagents are used for the synthesis of organic compounds, as intermediate in the synthesis of fine chemicals. A few boron-containing organic pharmaceuticals are used, or are in study. Natural boron is composed of two stable isotopes, one of which (boron-10) has a number of uses as a neutron-capturing agent.

In biology, borates have low toxicity in mammals (similar to table salt), but are more toxic to arthropods and are used as insecticides. Boric acid is mildly antimicrobial, and a natural boron-containing organic antibiotic is known. Boron is essential to life. Small amounts of boron compounds play a strengthening role in the cell walls of all plants, making boron necessary in soils. Experiments indicate a role for boron as an ultratrace element in animals, but the nature of its role in animal physiology is unknown.

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