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6.3: Borides

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    The non-metallic nature of boron means that it makes a number of binary compounds with elements more electropositive than itself (i.e., metals). These compounds are called, borides, and some are also formed with metalloid elements as well (e.g., arsenic). In this regard, borides may be considered similar to carbides, silicides, and some phosphides.

    Borides are prepared in a number of ways, however, direct combination of the elements, (6.3.1), is the simplest. Other routes include, electrolysis of the fused salts, and the reduction of the metal oxide with a mixture of carbon and boron carbide.

    \[ \text{M + x B} \rightarrow \text{MB}_\text{x}\]

    Metal borides are generally refractory in character and chemically inert, while they often have properties better that of the constituent elements. For example, the thermal conductivity of TiB2 is about ten times greater than that of titanium, and the melting point is significantly higher (Table \(\PageIndex{1}\)).

    Table \(\PageIndex{1}\): The melting points of Group 4 metals and their borides.
    Element Melting point (°C) Boride Melting point (°C)
    Ti 1725 TiB2 3225
    Zr 1855 ZrB2 2990
    Hf 2233 HfB2 3100

    The structures of metal borides depends on the M:B ratio. Borides with an isolated boron atom have a low B:M ratio: M4B, M3B, M2B, M5B2, and M7B3. In such compounds the boron atom is normally in a triangular-prismatic or square-antiprismatic hole in a metal lattice. Borides with equal or near equal metal and boron ratio have structures with either pairs of boron atoms (as in V3B2), single boron chains (seen in all MB compounds), or double boron chains (observed for many M3B4 compounds). Increasing the boron content results in two-dimensional structures. For example, MB2 usually consists of alternate hexagonal layers of metal and boron (Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)). Finally, boron rich borides (e.g., MB4, MB6, and MB12) all have three-dimensional structures.

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Alternate layers of metal atoms (large circles) and boron (small circles) in MB2.

    This page titled 6.3: Borides is shared under a CC BY 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Andrew R. Barron (CNX) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.