Is super-thin borophene the future of wearables?

Graphene has been touted as a possible next generation material for wearables, smartphones, and other electronic devices, but scientists at Rice University suspect borophene, an atom-thick substance, could provide even better results.

One of the main differences between graphene and borophene is the undulating structure it takes when moved from its typical state, metallic, to silver substrate. Its structure remains intact during this process, meaning it can retain its flexibility.

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“Borophene is metallic in its typical state, with strong electron-phonon coupling to support possible superconductivity, and a rich band structure that contains Dirac cones, as in graphene,” said Rice physicist Boris Yakobson.

Borophene superconductivity is critical

Superconductive material is highly valuable in the wearables industry, where signals and circuitry must flow without any issues. The scientists believe borophene (2D boron) would be good for wearables, but may perform even better with flexible devices.

The benefits of graphene are seen in its ability to not just to conduct energy quickly, but to provide an energy storage solution that can avoid the fire or explosion hazards of traditional lithium ion batteries. Borophene appears to add a new layer of flexibility to those attributes.

“This wavy conformation so far seems unique due to the exceptional structural flexibility and particular interactions of borophene with silver, and may be initially triggered by a slight compression in the layer when a bit too many boron atoms get onto the surface,” said postdoctoral researcher Zhuhua Zhang.

The likelihood of borophene entering the wearables market in the next few years is small, considering the limitations of the material at the current time, but it does show the potential future for device manufacturers should metal and plastic ever fail to impress.

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