Acta Physico-Chimica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (6): 565-571.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201805080

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Chemical Synthesis of Borophene: Progress and Prospective

Qin WANG,Minmin XUE,Zhuhua ZHANG*()   

  • Received:2018-05-28 Accepted:2018-07-01 Published:2018-10-31
  • Contact: Zhuhua ZHANG
  • Supported by:
    The project was supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, China(NE2018002)


Borophene, a boron analogue of graphene, exhibits a rich variety of chemical and physical properties. Here, we provide an intensive overview of recent progress in theoretical modeling and experimental synthesis of borophene. In particular, we analyze the influence of substrate, growth temperature, and precursor on the selectivity of boron nucleation. While three-dimensional (3D) bulk boron is more stable than a two-dimensional (2D) boron sheet, the nucleation barrier determined by the growth process controls the formation of the material and it depends on the specific growth environment. Theoretical studies have shown that a metal substrate can play an important role in stabilizing 2D boron clusters over their 3D form, resulting in the kinetically favored growth of 2D boron on the substrate even though the 2D boron clusters will be overwhelmingly less stable than the 3D form with increasing cluster size. Ag and Cu substrates have proven to be particularly suitable for achieving this preference. Guided by theoretical works and perhaps original insights, experimentalists from two independent groups have successfully synthesized 2D boron sheets on silver substrates by depositing ultra-high purity boron onto a clean Ag (111) surface under high vacuum conditions. Moreover, the borophene samples were found to exhibit the same atomic structure previously predicted to be preferred on this substrate. Besides the substrate, the growth temperature is also key to the final product. When the temperature is too low, boron growth cannot overcome the nucleation barrier of the 2D structure. As a result, boron clusters or amorphous boron structures are likely to be formed. In contrast, an excessively high growth temperature will steer the growth to overcome the nucleation barrier of 3D boron, possibly yielding boron nanofilms with finite thickness. Therefore, the growth temperature needs to be carefully controlled, so that the free energy of boron growth will be located between the nucleation barriers of the 3D and 2D forms. Some impurity elements found in synthetic source materials, such as hydrogen and oxygen, can also impact boron nucleation. The existence of these elements may alter the competition between 2D and 3D structures during the nucleation process. More importantly, hydrogen and oxygen can passivate the dangling bonds on the surface of a 3D boron structure, lowering its surface energy, and therefore, impairing the nucleation of 2D boron structures. At present, molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) is the only method with which borophene has been successfully synthesized. Yet this method is very expensive, suffers from low yield, and is constrained to small sample sizes. Thus, exploring the growth of borophene via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on different substrates is critically important for realizing the great potential of borophene in various applications. By discussing possible growth conditions and atomistic mechanisms of borophene nucleation as well as theoretical methods for modeling and simulations, we suggest prospects for chemical vapor deposition growth of borophene on selected substrates. This work aims to offer useful guidance for chemical synthesis of large-area, high-quality borophenes and promote their practical applications.

Key words: Borophene, Chemical vapor deposition, Materials synthesis, Theoretical modeling, Substrate, Nucleation


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