One-dimensional boron is likely to have unusual properties that would make it useful for nanometre-scale electronics.
Boron does not exist naturally in 1D form, but it may soon be possible to make it, thanks to recent developments in creating sophisticated structures from the element and in crafting carbon into 1D chains. Vasilii Artyukhov, Boris Yakobson and Mingjie Liu at Rice University in Houston, Texas, calculated the likely properties of 1D boron using a computing technique called density functional theory. They predict that boron would be more stable as a 2-atom-wide metallic ribbon than as a single-atom chain, but that stretching the ribbon should switch it to the chain form, which would be a semiconductor.
Releasing the tension on the chain would flip it back into ribbon form. This reversibility could make 1D boron suitable for nanoscale devices that convert movement into electrical signals, the authors say.