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The structures of two 16-atom boron clusters were discovered. On the left is the flat structure created by 16 boron atoms plus 2 electrons. On the right is the rippled form created by 16 boron atoms with 1 electron.

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Document Title: Boron Clusters
Category: Chemistry
Media Type: Graphics
Date of Image/Photo: December 2008
Background: Widely used by industry and one of the most reactive elements on earth, boron atoms form different structures depending on how many atoms and electrons are present. The shape of these structures is difficult to determine because of the sheer number of possible configurations. For example, 16 atoms can theoretically be arranged in about 20 trillion different ways, but only 1 really exists in nature. Which arrangement is right? "The more atoms, the more ways you can arrange them," said lead investigator Dr. Lai-Sheng Wang of Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Progress is slower than we'd like." That's the challenge scientists from Utah State University, Washington State University, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory faced when they were studying boron ions, clusters of atoms with extra electrons. The team found that the ion with 16 boron atoms and one electron formed a rippled structure that resembled a warped snowshoe. Interestingly, when another electron was added, the ion became utterly flat. But, more interesting to the team was the location of the electrons swarming around the outer edge of the atoms, known as the pi electrons. These electrons are in the same orbit as the hydrocarbon naphthalene, responsible for the smell of mothballs, making this ion a hydrocarbon analogue. See the rest at http://www.pnl.gov/science/highlights/highlight.asp?id=521
URL of this page: http://picturethis.pnl.gov/picturet.nsf/by+id/DRAE-7Q2QVT

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