Ferromagnetism and semiconducting of boron nanowires
State Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Materials and Technologies, Institute of Optoelectronic and Functional Composite Materials, Nanotechnology Research Center, School of Physics and Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, Guangdong, People’s Republic of China
Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:678 doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-678Published: 17 December 2012
More recently, motivated by extensively technical applications of carbon nanostructures, there is a growing interest in exploring novel non-carbon nanostructures. As the nearest neighbor of carbon in the periodic table, boron has exceptional properties of low volatility and high melting point and is stronger than steel, harder than corundum, and lighter than aluminum. Boron nanostructures thus are expected to have broad applications in various circumstances. In this contribution, we have performed a systematical study of the stability and electronic and magnetic properties of boron nanowires using the spin-polarized density functional calculations. Our calculations have revealed that there are six stable configurations of boron nanowires obtained by growing along different base vectors from the unit cell of the bulk α-rhombohedral boron (α-B) and β-rhombohedral boron (β-B). Well known, the boron bulk is usually metallic without magnetism. However, theoretical results about the magnetic and electronic properties showed that, whether for the α-B-based or the β-B-based nanowires, their magnetism is dependent on the growing direction. When the boron nanowires grow along the base vector , they exhibit ferromagnetism and have the magnetic moments of 1.98 and 2.62 μB, respectively, for the α-c  and β-c  directions. Electronically, when the boron nanowire grows along the α-c  direction, it shows semiconducting and has the direct bandgap of 0.19 eV. These results showed that boron nanowires possess the unique direction dependence of the magnetic and semiconducting behaviors, which are distinctly different from that of the bulk boron. Therefore, these theoretical findings would bring boron nanowires to have many promising applications that are novel for the boron bulk.