Boron: Its role in energy related research and applications
Dewhurst, Rian D.
Ignat’ev, Nikolai V.
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Boron’s unique position in the periodic table, i.e. at the apex of the line separating metals and nonmetals, makes it highly versatile in chemical reactions and applications. Contemporary demand for renewable and clean energy and energy-efficient products has seen boron playing key roles in energy-related research, from activating and synthesizing energy-rich small molecules, to storing chemical and electrical energy, to converting electrical energy to light. These applications are fundamentally associated with boron’s unique characteristics, such as its electrondeficiency and the availability of an unoccupied p orbital, which allow the formation of a myriad of compounds with great tunability in chemical and physical properties. For example, boron's ability to achieve a full octet of electrons with four covalent bonds and a negative charge has led to the synthesis of a wide variety of borate anions of high chemical and electrochemical stability, in particular the useful family of weakly coordinating anions. This review summarizes recent advances in the study of boron compounds for energy-related research and applications, driven by modern demands and enabled by breakthroughs in the synthesis and understanding of boron chemistry.