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Journal Article

Disorder and defects are not intrinsic to boron carbide


Mondal,  Swastik
Service Department Lehmann (EMR), Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Max Planck Society;
Laboratory of Crystallography, University of Bayreuth;

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Mondal, S., Bykova, E., Dey, S., Ali, S. I., Dubrovinskaia, N., Dubrovinsky, L., et al. (2016). Disorder and defects are not intrinsic to boron carbide. Scientific Reports, 6: 19330. doi:10.1038/srep19330.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-72EC-1
A unique combination of useful properties in boron-carbide, such as extreme hardness, excellent fracture toughness, a low density, a high melting point, thermoelectricity, semi-conducting behavior, catalytic activity and a remarkably good chemical stability, makes it an ideal material for a wide range of technological applications. Explaining these properties in terms of chemical bonding has remained a major challenge in boron chemistry. Here we report the synthesis of fully ordered, stoichiometric boron-carbide B13C2 by high-pressure–high-temperature techniques. Our experimental electron-density study using high-resolution single-crystal synchrotron X-ray diffraction data conclusively demonstrates that disorder and defects are not intrinsic to boron carbide, contrary to what was hitherto supposed. A detailed analysis of the electron density distribution reveals charge transfer between structural units in B13C2 and a new type of electron-deficient bond with formally unpaired electrons on the C–B–C group in B13C2. Unprecedented bonding features contribute to the fundamental chemistry and materials science of boron compounds that is of great interest for understanding structure-property relationships and development of novel functional materials.