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Observation of an all-boron fullerene


After the discovery of fullerene-C60, it took almost two decades for the possibility of boron-based fullerene structures to be considered. So far, there has been no experimental evidence for these nanostructures, in spite of the progress made in theoretical investigations of their structure and bonding. Here we report the observation, by photoelectron spectroscopy, of an all-boron fullerene-like cage cluster at B40 with an extremely low electron-binding energy. Theoretical calculations show that this arises from a cage structure with a large energy gap, but that a quasi-planar isomer of B40 with two adjacent hexagonal holes is slightly more stable than the fullerene structure. In contrast, for neutral B40 the fullerene-like cage is calculated to be the most stable structure. The surface of the all-boron fullerene, bonded uniformly via delocalized σ and π bonds, is not perfectly smooth and exhibits unusual heptagonal faces, in contrast to C60 fullerene.

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Figure 1: Photoelectron spectrum of the B40 cluster and comparison with simulated spectra.
Figure 2: Top and side views of the global minimum and low-lying isomers of B40 and B40 at the PBE0/6-311+G* level.
Figure 3: Configurational energy spectra at the PBE0/6-311+G* level.
Figure 4: Results of chemical bonding analyses for the B40 fullerene.


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This work was supported by the US National Science Foundation (CHE-1263745 to L-S.W.), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (20825311, 21173051, 21243004 and 21373130), the National Key Basic Research Special Foundations (2011CB808500, 2013CB834603 and 2011CB932401), the Shanxi International Cooperation project (2013081018) and the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (08DZ2270500). H-J.Z. gratefully acknowledges the support of a start-up fund from Shanxi University. The calculations were performed using supercomputers at the Computer Network Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tsinghua National Laboratory for Information Science and Technology.

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H-J.Z., S-D.L., J.L. and L-S.W. designed the project. H-J.Z. and W-L.L. carried out the experiments. Q.C., H.B., W-J.T., H-G.L., Y-B.W. and Y-W.M. constructed the guess structures and did the electronic structure calculations and spectral simulations. G-F.W., Z-P.L. and Y-F.Z. did the SSW and BH structural searches independently. H-S.H. performed the CCSD calculations. H-J.Z., J.L., S-D.L. and L-S.W. analysed the data and wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and made comments and edits to the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jun Li or Si-Dian Li or Lai-Sheng Wang.

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Zhai, HJ., Zhao, YF., Li, WL. et al. Observation of an all-boron fullerene. Nature Chem 6, 727–731 (2014).

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