2.34
10.81
[He] 2s22p1
11B
13
2
p
5
2, 3
800.637
B
2.34
2077°C, 3771°F, 2350 K
4000°C, 7232°F, 4273 K
Louis-Josef Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thénard in Paris, France, and Humphry Davy in London, UK
1808
7440-42-8
4575371
More Information
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Uses and Properties

Image Explanation

Boron plays an essential role as a micronutrient for the growth of corn plants. Boron is one of the many essential nutrients required by plants for their proper development, and it plays several key functions in corn and other crops. A deficiency of boron in corn plants can lead to various symptoms, including stunted growth, poor kernel development, and abnormal tassel and ear formation.

Appearance

Pure boron is a dark amorphous powder.

Uses

Boron: The Unassuming Element with Astonishing Versatility


In the world of chemical elements, boron might not be a household name, but its versatility and incredible properties have earned it a special place in various industries. With a wide range of applications spanning from agriculture and aerospace to medicine and materials science, boron is a remarkable element that quietly powers progress and innovation. In this article, we will explore the remarkable uses of boron and its significant impact on our daily lives.

1. Agriculture and Soil Improvement


Agriculture forms the backbone of our society, and boron plays a vital role in ensuring crop productivity. Boron is an essential micronutrient for plants, aiding in various physiological processes, such as cell wall formation, sugar transportation, and reproduction. Boron-deficient soils can lead to stunted plant growth, lower crop yields, and decreased fruit quality.

Farmers use boron-based fertilizers to correct soil deficiencies and promote healthy crop growth. Boron's contribution to agriculture is crucial for food security, as it helps to ensure the availability of nutritious and abundant harvests.

2. Aerospace Materials


Boron's remarkable properties extend to the aerospace industry, where its strength-to-weight ratio makes it a valuable material for constructing lightweight yet durable components. Boron composites, often combined with materials like carbon fiber, are used in the production of aircraft components, spacecraft structures, and even high-performance sports equipment.

The aerospace sector relies on boron composites to reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency while maintaining structural integrity. Boron's resilience and ability to withstand extreme conditions, including high temperatures and pressure, make it an ideal choice for advanced aerospace materials.

3. Nuclear Applications


Boron's unique nuclear properties are harnessed in a variety of applications, including nuclear reactors, radiation shielding, and neutron absorbers. Boron is an efficient neutron absorber, which is crucial for controlling nuclear reactions. Control rods made from boron-containing materials are used in nuclear reactors to adjust the rate of nuclear fission and prevent overheating.

Boron is also used in radiation shielding to protect workers and the environment from harmful radiation exposure. This application is particularly significant in nuclear power plants, medical facilities, and laboratories where radioactive materials are handled.

4. Electronic Devices


Boron's role in electronics is largely behind the scenes but no less crucial. Boron is used in the production of semiconductors, a fundamental component in electronic devices. Boron doping, a process in which small amounts of boron are introduced into a semiconductor material, helps to control the electrical conductivity and behavior of the material.

Semiconductors containing boron are vital in the manufacture of diodes, transistors, and integrated circuits that power our electronic devices, including smartphones, computers, and televisions. These devices have become integral to our daily lives and are powered, in part, by the unique properties of boron.

5. Medical Imaging and Treatment


In the field of medicine, boron has a significant role in boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT). This innovative cancer treatment technique involves introducing a boron-containing compound into tumor cells. When exposed to neutrons, the boron nuclei capture the neutrons and release energy, destroying the surrounding cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue.

BNCT is a targeted and precise approach to cancer treatment, holding promise for the treatment of various malignancies, particularly brain tumors. Boron's ability to selectively destroy cancer cells without the harsh side effects of traditional radiation therapy has the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment.

6. Protective Coatings


Boron is employed in the production of protective coatings for a variety of applications. Boron carbide, known for its exceptional hardness and wear resistance, is used to create durable coatings for cutting tools, armor, and other wear-prone surfaces.

The high hardness and low density of boron carbide make it a valuable material in military and defense applications. It is used in body armor, vehicle armor, and bulletproof vests to provide protection against ballistic threats.

7. Superconductors


Boron's versatile nature extends to the realm of superconductors. Superconductors are materials that exhibit zero electrical resistance when cooled to extremely low temperatures. Boron-based compounds, such as magnesium diboride (MgB2), are superconductors that operate at relatively higher temperatures compared to other superconducting materials.

These high-temperature superconductors have potential applications in developing advanced energy-efficient technologies, including powerful magnets for medical imaging, transportation, and energy storage systems.

8. Advanced Materials and Composites


Boron is a key ingredient in the creation of advanced materials and composites. For example, boron fibers are used to reinforce composite materials, enhancing their strength, stiffness, and durability. These materials are utilized in the manufacturing of aerospace components, sporting goods, and even lightweight structures in the automotive industry.

The unique combination of boron's lightweight properties and structural strength has allowed for the development of high-performance materials that are changing the way we design and construct a wide range of products.

Conclusion


Boron, often working behind the scenes, is a quiet hero in the world of science and industry. Its exceptional properties and versatility have led to a multitude of applications that have a significant impact on our daily lives. From promoting crop growth and enhancing aerospace materials to powering electronic devices and advancing medical treatments, boron's contributions are both diverse and invaluable.

As technology and innovation continue to evolve, the importance of boron in driving progress, expanding our knowledge, and improving the quality of life cannot be overstated. While this unassuming element may not grab the headlines, its remarkable versatility and unique properties are a driving force behind some of the most groundbreaking advances in our modern world.

History

In the vast tapestry of the periodic table, Boron stands as an unassuming element, often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors like carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. However, beneath its unpretentious exterior lies a fascinating history that spans centuries. Boron's unique properties have found applications in various fields, from metallurgy and agriculture to medicine and advanced materials. Join us on a historical voyage through the captivating world of Boron, a true unsung hero of the chemical realm.

The Discovery of Boron


The history of Boron dates back to the early 19th century when French chemists Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thénard first isolated it in 1808. They obtained Boron by reducing borax (sodium borate) with potassium. The name "Boron" is derived from the Arabic word "buraq," which means "borax," reflecting the element's origins.

Boron in Metallurgy and Industry


Boron may be unassuming, but it possesses remarkable properties that have earned it a place in metallurgy and industry. Boron's high melting point and excellent thermal stability make it an ideal material for the production of heat-resistant ceramics and refractory materials.

Boron's ability to absorb neutrons without undergoing nuclear reactions makes it essential in the nuclear industry. In particular, Boron is used as a neutron absorber in control rods for nuclear reactors, helping regulate nuclear fission reactions and ensuring the safe operation of these facilities.

Boron in Agriculture


Boron plays a crucial role in agriculture, where it is recognized as an essential micronutrient for plant growth. It aids in various physiological processes in plants, including cell wall formation, sugar transport, and flower formation. Boron deficiency in soil can lead to stunted growth, reduced crop yields, and poor fruit development.

The importance of Boron in agriculture was first recognized in the early 20th century, leading to the development of Boron-containing fertilizers. These fertilizers have since become invaluable tools for enhancing crop quality and yield in regions with Boron-deficient soils.

Boron in Advanced Materials


Boron's versatility extends into the realm of advanced materials. One of its most famous derivatives is borosilicate glass, known for its exceptional resistance to thermal expansion and chemical corrosion. Perhaps the most iconic example of borosilicate glass is the brand Pyrex, commonly used in laboratory glassware and kitchen cookware.

Boron carbide, an extremely hard and lightweight material, has applications in the manufacturing of body armor, cutting tools, and even the aerospace industry. Its exceptional hardness has earned it the nickname "black diamond."

Boron in Medicine


Boron's potential health benefits have also piqued the interest of medical researchers. Boron is believed to play a role in bone health by promoting calcium absorption and inhibiting calcium loss. It has also shown promise in improving cognitive function and potentially reducing the risk of certain chronic conditions.

While Boron's exact role in human health is still being studied, it has become a popular dietary supplement. Boron supplements are readily available and are often marketed as aids for bone health and overall wellness.

Boron in Space Exploration


Boron's utility isn't confined to Earth; it has also found its way into the realm of space exploration. Boron filaments are used in solar sails, an innovative propulsion technology that relies on the pressure of sunlight to propel spacecraft through the solar system. These lightweight and sturdy filaments help harness the power of the sun for interplanetary travel.

Challenges and Future Prospects


Despite its many applications and potential benefits, Boron is not without its challenges. Its extraction and refinement processes can be energy-intensive and environmentally impactful. Responsible and sustainable mining and processing practices are essential to mitigate these concerns.

The future of Boron may hold even more surprises, as researchers continue to explore its unique properties and potential applications in emerging technologies. From energy storage to nanomaterials and beyond, Boron's versatility ensures it will remain a valuable element in our ever-evolving scientific and industrial landscape.

The history of Boron is a testament to the enduring and sometimes unexpected contributions of seemingly unremarkable elements. From agriculture and industry to medicine and space exploration, Boron's versatility and unique properties have quietly shaped our world in countless ways.

As we look to the future, it is essential to continue our exploration of Boron's potential while balancing its applications with responsible and sustainable practices. This unassuming element serves as a reminder that the periodic table holds countless hidden treasures, waiting to be uncovered and harnessed for the benefit of humanity.

Atomic Data

Atomic Radiues, Non-bonded (A): 1.92
Electron Affinity (kJ mol-1): 26.989
Covalent Radiues (A): 0.84
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale): 2.04
Ionisation Energies (kJ mol-1) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
800.637 2427.069 3659.751 25025.905 32826.802 - - -

Oxidation States and Isotopes

Common oxidation states 1
Isotope Atomic Mass Natural Abundance Half Life Mode of Decay
10B 10.013
19.9
- -
11B 11.009 80.1 - -

Supply Risk

Relative Supply Risk: 4.5
Crustal Abundance (ppm): 11
Recycle Rate (%): Unknown
Production Conc.(%) : 33.6
Top 3 Producers:
1) Turkey
2) USA
3) Chile
Top 3 Reserve Holders:
1) Turkey
2) Russia
3) USA
Substitutability: Unknown
Political Stability of Top Producer: 11.8
Political Stability of Top Reserve Holder: 11.8

Pressure and Temperature Data

Specific Heat Capacity: 1026
Shear Modulus: Unknown
Young Modulus: Unknown
Bulk Modulus: Unknown
Pressure 400k Pressure 600k Pressure 800k Pressure 1000k Pressure 1200k Pressure 1400k Pressure 1600k Pressure 1800k Pressure 2000k Pressure 2200k Pressure 2400k
- - - - - - - - - - Unknown

Podcast

Boron is a key element in comprehending how life on Earth evolved through the time. It is essential for plant growth and healthy animals. It is classified as a metalloid; belonging to the second period of periodic table, Boron can be oxidized in its gaseous state to form boron oxides. These borates are toxic to arthropods, and have low toxicity to humans. They are sometimes used as insecticides.

Boron forms compounds with three bonds, including boron hydride and boron carbide. These compounds are stabilized by cis-diol groups and are also useful in the manufacture of polymers.

Boron is a chemical element found in Earth's environment. It is one of the lightest elements and has an atomic number of 5.

Boron has two stable isotopes, B11 and B10 representing 80.1% and 19.9%, respectively. Both of them are naturally occurring isotopes.

Boron is a dark metalloid and it is chemically inert at room temperature. It reacts with nonoxidizing acids, noble gases, and boric oxide. Boron can form a variety of covalent bonds with other elements, including carbon and halogens. Boron is also used in p-type semiconductors.

It is a rare element in the Universe, and only forms minor amounts in cosmic ray spallation nucleosynthesis. In the Big Bang, boron is formed in a few trace amounts.

Throughout the 1800s, chemists were not able to obtain the pure form of boron. They did not obtain a pure boron compound until 1808, when French chemists Louis-Jaques Thenard and Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and English chemist Humphry Davy extracted it from borax by heating it with potassium metal.

Boron is found in many forms in nature, such as the minerals borax and kernite but it was first mined as a crystalline material named Tincal, which contained 50% of borax. In minor extents, this substance was also discovered to be an antiseptic.

By the 1940s, formulations of borates were being used to protect wood. These products provided the best protection against Dry Rot in ships and buildings and it continues to be used.

Boron is a solid that is brittle and does not include any metal, and the main chemical properties are its high boiling point and melting point. In addition, boron has the highest electronegativity of all of the group thirteen elements. It is an excellent insulator and the chemical properties of elemental boron are similar to those of carbon.

Boron can form three-dimensional networks, a stable lattice, and chain species. Boron has the ability to crystallize into a rhombohedral shape. Additionally, it has a powerful Lewis acidity.

When a boron atom combines with other elements, it forms Pi-bonds. It is also able to form covalent bonds with metals. Boron's crystallization state is known for its extreme brittleness.

On the other hand, at room temperatures it has a very low electrical conductivity. In flame tests, boron burns with a bright green color.

Boron atoms have three valence electrons and has a relatively low ionization energy of 8.298 eV.

Boron is highly resistant to heat and acid. It has a melting point of 2348 Kelvin. At higher temperatures, boron reacts with oxygen to form boric oxide.

Boron has a wide variety of applications in both modern and ancient times. It is used in several fields of science. Its applications range from material and energy to medicinal chemistry.

It plays a role in signaling mechanisms among bacteria and legumes. Glasses, porcelain, surface coatings, adhesives, and detergents are among of the other products that benefit from its incorporation. In addition, Boron is used as a deoxidizer, desulfurizer, and alloying agent in metallurgy. The first nuclear reactors used boron in their control rods.

It well known that it can be used in fiber composites and in reinforcement materials. In the semiconductor industry, Boron is also used as dopant.

The most widely studied boron compounds are carboranes. These compounds are cage-structured borons. They can be halogenated to produce reactive structures. They are described in the literature for asymmetric catalysis and Diels-Alder reaction.

Other important boron compounds include metal borides. These boron alloys have specialized applications as hard materials. They are used to increase the mechanical strength of titanium alloys. Also, they improve the conductivity of powder metallurgy.

Boron-based polymers are useful for cell biology and optical data storage. Their reflective index allows them to be used in multiphoton microscopy. They are also useful for tumor hypoxia and waveguides.

Boron also has a plethora of potential therapeutic applications. However, Boron nitride nanoparticles have shown good biocompatibility. They have been shown to inhibit triple negative breast cancer in mice. Also, they’ve been demonstrated to withstand deterioration well.

It has also been shown to help calcium metabolism in plants.

References


  • W. M. Haynes, ed., CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, FL, 95th Edition, Internet Version 2015, accessed December 2014.

  • Tables of Physical & Chemical Constants, Kaye & Laby Online, 16th edition, 1995. Version 1.0 (2005), accessed December 2014.

  • J. S. Coursey, D. J. Schwab, J. J. Tsai, and R. A. Dragoset, Atomic Weights and Isotopic Compositions (version 4.1), 2015, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, accessed November 2016.

  • T. L. Cottrell, The Strengths of Chemical Bonds, Butterworth, London, 1954.

  • John Emsley, Nature’s Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press, New York, 2nd Edition, 2011.