An orthorhombic (space group Pnnm) boron phase was synthesized at pressures above 9 GPa and high temperature, and it was demonstrated to be stable at least up to 30 GPa. The structure, determined by single-crystal x-ray diffraction, consists of B12 icosahedra and B2 dumbbells. The charge density distribution obtained from experimental data and ab initio calculations suggests covalent chemical bonding in this phase. Strong covalent interatomic interactions explain the low compressibility value (bulk modulus is K300=227GPa) and high hardness of high-pressure boron (Vickers hardness HV=58GPa), after diamond the second hardest elemental material.
Physical Review Letters
- Pub Date:
- May 2009
- Structure of specific crystalline solids;
- Crystallographic aspects of phase transformations;
- pressure effects;
- High-pressure effects in solids and liquids