Boron, whose chemical symbol is B, is a chemical element which can be found on the periodic table next to carbon. The name boron, originated from the word Buraq, which means 'white' and is referred to the mineral borax in Arabic. There are several allotropes of this naturally-occurring element. Boron is defined as, 'A soft, brown, amorphous or crystalline nonmetallic element, extracted chiefly from kernite and borax and used in flares, propellant mixtures, nuclear reactor control elements, abrasives, and hard metallic alloys'.
Apart from being a chemical, it is also an important nutrient for plants. This element is not available in a free state in nature. Boron is found in the form of orthoboric acid in volcanic spring waters. It is also found in the form of borates in colemantie and boron. There are many facts about this element that are quite interesting. One of them being - Boron as an element was identified in 1824 by Swedish chemist named Jons Jacob Berzelius.
Given below is the chemical classification of this element;
- Name: Boron
- Atomic Number: 5
- Symbol: B
- Atomic Mass: 10.811 amu
- Number of protons and electrons: 5
- Number of neutrons: 6
- Boiling Point: 2823.15 ºK (2550.0 ºC)
- Melting Point: 2573.15 ºK (2300.0 ºC)
- Density (at 293 ºK): 2.34 g/cm3
- Structure of the Crystals: Rhombohedral (or trigonal)
- Electronic Configuration: 1s2 2s2 2p1 and in the form of a noble gas it is [He] 2s22p1
Boron is a widely found chemical element in the earth's crust. It occurs in coal, oceans, shale, sedimentary rocks and in certain types of soils. Mentioned below is some information regarding this metalloid;
- It was first discovered in 1808 by L. J. Thenard and Joseph L. Gay-Lussac, the two French chemists who reacted sodium with boric acid to isolate boron. It was later independently isolated by Sir Humphry Davy.
- Boron in its pure form was produced in 1909 by W. Weintraub, an American chemist. The name Boron was coined using a combination of borax and carbon.
- This element occurs naturally in the form of a brownish colored powder and also in crystalline form. It is also found in volcanic springs in the form of boric acid.
- This heat resistant alloy is obtained from borates, colemanite, kernite and ulexite. Since it is a metalloid (having the properties of both metals and non-metals), the application of boron can be seen for carrying an electrical charge and also as semi-conductors.
- There are two isotopes - Boron 10, which has four neutrons in its atomic nucleus and Boron 11, that contains five neutrons.
- It is mainly manufactured in Turkey and the United States, since natural boron is very hard to find owing to its rare occurrence.
- This element was introduced in Europe in the 1200's by Marco Polo, who was a cultural explorer.
Uses of Boron
Boron is a naturally occurring metalloid that has many applications. It is also manufactured commercially. There are several essential uses, a few of which are listed as under:
- Boron is used in fireworks and pyrotechnics to give a green color to the flares.
- This naturally-occurring chemical element is also used in rockets as a fuel for ignition.
- A naturally occurring isotope, Boron-10, is used as shield to protect against radiation and a neutron detector in nuclear reactors, as it is known to be a good absorber of neutrons.
- In the semiconductor industry, boron is used as a dopant for semiconductors like silicon, silicon carbide and germanium.
- The filaments are lightweight and have high tensile strength. They are used in making many sports equipment like golf clubs and fishing rods. They are also used in the aerospace industry for making the bodies of aircraft and other parts.
- Sodium tetraborate pentahydrate (Na2B4O7), which is a form of boron is used to manufacture cleaning products like detergents and bleaches and also in manufacturing insulating fiberglass.
- Bulletproof vests and tank armor are made out of boron carbide.
- This is also used in ceramic and glass industries in the form of borosilicate glass, since it has an excellent resistance to thermal shocks and has a low coefficient of thermal expansion.
- It is a major ingredient in the manufacture of several pest controls, soil supplements, agricultural chemicals and fertilizers.
- Sodium perborate, which is a compound of boron, is a source of active oxygen and is used in the manufacture of cleaning products, laundry detergents and tooth bleaching formulas.
Apart from the industrial uses, boron also has many health benefits. It helps in strengthening the bones, by increasing the body's capacity to absorb calcium and magnesium. It is also essential for the proper functioning of the brain.