Stronger and more flexible than graphene, a single-atom layer of boron could revolutionize sensors, batteries, and catalytic chemistry.
Not so long ago, graphene was the great new wonder material. A super-strong, atom-thick sheet of carbon “chicken wire,” it can form tubes, balls, and other curious shapes. And because it conducts electricity, materials scientists raised the prospect of a new era of graphene-based computer processing and a lucrative graphene chip industry to boot. The European Union invested €1 billion to kick-start a graphene industry.
This brave new graphene-based world has yet to materialize. But it has triggered an interest in other two-dimensional materials. And the most exciting of all is borophene: a single layer of boron atoms that form various crystalline structures.