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Nano Lett. 2008 Apr;8(4):1026-32. doi: 10.1021/nl072713m. Epub 2008 Mar 12.

Experimental and theoretical studies suggesting the possibility of metallic boron nitride edges in porous nanourchins.

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  • 1Advanced Materials Department, IPICYT, Camino a la Presa San José 2055, Col. Lomas 4 sección, San Luis Potosí 78216, México.


We first describe the synthesis of novel and highly porous boron nitride (BN) nanospheres (100-400 nm o.d.) that exhibit a rough surface consisting of open BN nanocones and corrugated BN ribbons. The material was produced by reacting B2O3 with nanoporous carbon spheres under nitrogen at ca. 1750 degrees C. The BN nanospheres were characterized using scanning electron microscopy, high-resolution electron microscopy, and electron energy loss spectroscopy. The porous BN spheres show relatively large surface areas of ca. 290 m2/g and exhibit surprisingly stable field emission properties at low turn-on voltages (e.g., 1-1.3 V/microm). We attribute these outstanding electron emission properties to the presence of finite BN ribbons located at the surface of the nanospheres (exhibiting zigzag edges), which behave like metals as confirmed by first-principles calculations. In addition, our ab initio theoretical results indicate that the work function associated to these zigzag BN ribbons is 1.3 eV lower when compared with BN-bulk material.

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