Chen's work on medium-sized boron clusters was highlighted as the cover of J. Phys. Chem. A.
The most eye-catching superstar of recent boron cluster research is B80, a fullerene-like hollow cage proposed in 2007. This aesthetically pleasant molecule triggered a hot wave of designing B80-based nanomaterials, and reexamination the conventionally assumed structures of boron sheets and nanotubes.
However, the relative stability of B80 cage with regard to the other possible structural patterns has not established. The same is for many other medium-sized boron clusters.
In collaboration with Professor Jijun Zhaoâ€™s group (Dalian University of Technology), Professor Chen found that B80 and other medium-sized boron clusters actually prefer core-shell structures, which resemble the structural and electronic properties of b-boron solid and constitutes a pathway from microclusters to macroscopic solids.
The importance of this work is far beyond finding some more stable structures, as Chen communicated with Chem. & Eng. News, â€œIdentifying the core-shell structure as being energetically more favorable will prompt scientists to reexamine previous theoretical work and help initiate a new wave of research on boron clusters and related boron sheets and nanotubesâ€(Fullerene-like Boron Analog Reevaluated, August 16 issue, 2010, 88, 40, http://pubs.acs.org/isubscribe/journals/cen/88/i33/html/8833scic2.html).
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