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Boron (B): Metalloids

Boron (B)

What is Boron?

Pure crystalline boron is a black, lustrous semiconductor; i.e., it conducts electricity like a metal at high temperatures and is almost an insulator at low temperatures. It is hard enough (9.3 on Mohs scale) to scratch some abrasives, such as carborundum, but too brittle for use in tools. It constitutes about 0.001 percent by weight of Earth’s crust. Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

The History

Boron was first isolated (1808) by French chemists Joseph-Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thenard and independently by British chemist Sir Humphry Davy by heating boron oxide (B2O3) with potassium metal. The impure amorphous product, a brownish black powder, was the only form of boron known for more than a century.  Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

Boron Facts

Boron is a multipurpose element. It's a crucial nutrient for plants, an important component in the nuclear industry and the main ingredient of a bizarre fluid called oobleck. 

Boron may have been the key to the evolution of life on Earth. The element stabilizes ribose, part of RNA, the self-assembling molecule that may have preceded DNA. (Viruses are essentially roving RNA strands.) A June 2014 study found that boron is present in the oldest rocks on Earth, which date back 3.8 billion years. This research proves that the early Earth had the ingredients needed to build RNA. 

Or maybe that first RNA got its boron from space. A 2013 study found that a Martian meteorite that landed in Antarctica contained 10 times the boron of any extraterrestrial object previously measured.

Boron, in its crystalline form, is the second-hardest element behind carbon (in its diamond form).

Unlike many elements, which form in fusion reactions within stars, boron formed after the Big Bang by a process called cosmic ray spallation. During this process, colliding cosmic rays split the nuclei of atoms, causing fission. Continue reading from LiveScience

Chart of Elemental Properties for Boron

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