Research Highlight

Graphene substitute

doi:10.1038/nindia.2010.11 Published online 8 February 2010

Researchers have synthesised boron nitride (BN), which structurally resembles graphene, a form of carbon that is just a single atom thick. BN, considered a graphene analogue, BN will have potential applications in nanotechnology.

BN is not found in nature and is produced synthetically. The researchers employed a special chemical method that used boric acid and urea to yield BN. Synthesis with a high proportion of urea yields a product mostly with 1−4 layers. The surface area of BN increases progressively with the decreasing number of layers.

BN is softer than graphene and exhibits signatures of long-range ionic interactions. A BN nanotube is a 'rolled on itself graphite-like sheet', where carbon atoms are alternately substituted by nitrogen and boron atoms.

Like BN fibers, boron nitride nanotubes show promise in aerospace applications where integration of boron into structural materials improves their radiation-shielding properties.

The authors of this work are from: Chemistry and Physics of Materials Unit, International Centre for Materials Science, Theoretical Sciences Unit and CSIR Centre of Excellence in Chemistry; Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Jakkur; and Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.


  1. Nag, A. et al. Graphene Analogues of BN: Novel Synthesis and Properties. ACS Nano. doi: 10.1021/nn9018762 (2010)