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  1. Photoelectron spectroscopy combined with quantum chemistry has been a powerful approach to elucidate the structures and bonding of size-selected boron clusters (B n − ), revealing a prevalent planar world that laid the foundation for borophenes. Investigations of metal-doped boron clusters not only lead to novel structures but also provide important information about the metal-boron bonds that are critical to understanding the properties of boride materials. The current review focuses on recent advances in transition-metal-doped boron clusters, including the discoveries of metal-boron multiple bonds and metal-doped novel aromatic boron clusters. The study of the RhB − and RhB 2 O − clusters led to the discovery of the first quadruple bond between boron and a transition-metal atom, whereas a metal-boron triple bond was found in ReB 2 O − and IrB 2 O − . The ReB 4 − cluster was shown to be the first metallaborocycle with Möbius aromaticity, and the planar ReB 6 − cluster was found to exhibit aromaticity analogous to metallabenzenes. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Physical Chemistry, Volume 73 is April 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 20, 2023
  2. Abstract

    Lanthanide (Ln) elements are generally found in the oxidation state +II or +III, and a few examples of +IV and +V compounds have also been reported. In contrast, monovalent Ln(+I) complexes remain scarce. Here we combine photoelectron spectroscopy and theoretical calculations to study Ln-doped octa-boron clusters (LnB8, Ln = La, Pr, Tb, Tm, Yb) with the rare +I oxidation state. The global minimum of the LnB8species changes fromCstoC7vsymmetry accompanied by an oxidation-state change from +III to +I from the early to late lanthanides. All theC7v-LnB8clusters can be viewed as a monovalent Ln(I) coordinated by a η8-B82−doubly aromatic ligand. The B73−, B82−, and B9series of aromatic boron clusters are analogous to the classical aromatic hydrocarbon molecules, C5H5, C6H6, and C7H7+, respectively, with similar trends of size and charge state and they are named collectively as “borozenes”. Lanthanides with variable oxidation states and magnetic properties may be formed with different borozenes.

  3. Abstract

    Despite its electron deficiency, boron can form multiple bonds with a variety of elements. However, multiple bonds between boron and main-group metal elements are relatively rare. Here we report the observation of boron-lead multiple bonds in PbB2Oand PbB3O2, which are produced and characterized in a cluster beam. PbB2Ois found to have an open-shell linear structure, in which the bond order of B☱Pb is 2.5, while the closed-shell [Pb≡B–B≡O]2–contains a B≡Pb triple bond. PbB3O2is shown to have a Y-shaped structure with a terminal B = Pb double bond coordinated by two boronyl ligands. Comparison between [Pb≡B–B≡O]2–/[Pb=B(B≡O)2]and the isoelectronic [Pb≡B–C≡O]/[Pb=B(C≡O)2]+carbonyl counterparts further reveals transition-metal-like behaviors for the central B atoms. Additional theoretical studies show that Ge and Sn can form similar boron species as Pb, suggesting the possibilities to synthesize new compounds containing multiple boron bonds with heavy group-14 elements.

  4. Boron displays many unusual structural and bonding properties due to its electron deficiency. Here we show that a boron atom in a boron monoxide cluster (B 9 O − ) exhibits transition-metal-like properties. Temperature-dependent photoelectron spectroscopy provided evidence of the existence of two isomers for B 9 O − : the main isomer has an adiabatic detachment energy (ADE) of 4.19 eV and a higher energy isomer with an ADE of 3.59 eV. The global minimum of B 9 O − is found surprisingly to be an umbrella-like structure ( C 6v , 1 A 1 ) and its simulated spectrum agrees well with that of the main isomer observed. A low-lying isomer ( C s , 1 A′) consisting of a BO unit bonded to a disk-like B 8 cluster agrees well with the 3.59 eV ADE species. The unexpected umbrella-like global minimum of B 9 O − can be viewed as a central boron atom coordinated by a η 7 -B 7 ligand on one side and a BO ligand on the other side, [(η 7 -B 7 )-B-BO] − . The central B atom is found to share its valence electrons with the B 7 unit tomore »fulfill double aromaticity, similar to that in half-sandwich [(η 7 -B 7 )-Zn-CO] − or [(η 7 -B 7 )-Fe(CO) 3 ] − transition-metal complexes. The ability of boron to form a half-sandwich complex with an aromatic ligand, a prototypical property of transition metals, brings out new metallomimetic properties of boron.« less
  5. Size-selected negatively-charged boron clusters (B n − ) have been found to be planar or quasi-planar in a wide size range. Even though cage structures emerged as the global minimum at B 39 − , the global minimum of B 40 − was in fact planar. Only in the neutral form did the B 40 borospherene become the global minimum. How the structures of larger boron clusters evolve is of immense interest. Here we report the observation of a bilayer B 48 − cluster using photoelectron spectroscopy and first-principles calculations. The photoelectron spectra of B 48 − exhibit two well-resolved features at low binding energies, which are used as electronic signatures to compare with theoretical calculations. Global minimum searches and theoretical calculations indicate that both the B 48 − anion and the B 48 neutral possess a bilayer-type structure with D 2h symmetry. The simulated spectrum of the D 2h B 48 − agrees well with the experimental spectral features, confirming the bilayer global minimum structure. The bilayer B 48 −/0 clusters are found to be highly stable with strong interlayer covalent bonding, revealing a new structural type for size-selected boron clusters. The current study shows the structural diversity ofmore »boron nanoclusters and provides experimental evidence for the viability of bilayer borophenes.« less
  6. Abstract

    The discovery of borospherenes unveiled the capacity of boron to form fullerene-like cage structures. While fullerenes are known to entrap metal atoms to form endohedral metallofullerenes, few metal atoms have been observed to be part of the fullerene cages. Here we report the observation of a class of remarkable metallo-borospherenes, where metal atoms are integral parts of the cage surface. We have produced La3B18and Tb3B18and probed their structures and bonding using photoelectron spectroscopy and theoretical calculations. Global minimum searches revealed that the most stable structures of Ln3B18are hollow cages withD3hsymmetry. The B18-framework in the Ln3B18cages can be viewed as consisting of two triangular B6motifs connected by three B2units, forming three shared B10rings which are coordinated to the three Ln atoms on the cage surface. These metallo-borospherenes represent a new class of unusual geometry that has not been observed in chemistry heretofore.

  7. Despite the importance of bulk lanthanide borides, nanoclusters of lanthanide and boron have rarely been investigated. Here we show that lanthanide–boron binary clusters, La 2 B x − , can form a new class of inverse-sandwich complexes, [Ln(η x -B x )Ln] − ( x = 7–9). Joint experimental and theoretical studies reveal that the monocyclic B x rings in the inverse sandwiches display similar bonding, consisting of three delocalized σ and three delocalized π bonds. Such monocyclic boron rings do not exist for bare boron clusters, but they are stabilized by the sandwiching lanthanide atoms. An electron counting rule is proposed to predict the sizes of the B x ring that can form stable inverse sandwiches. A unique (d-p)δ bond is found to play important roles in the stability of all three inverse-sandwich complexes.
  8. We report the observation of the first inverse triple-decker complex in a tri-lanthanide-doped boron cluster. Photoelectron spectroscopy of La3B14– reveals well-resolved photodetachment transitions. Quantum chemical studies show that the most stable structure of the La3B14– cluster exhibits a tilted La–B8–La–B8–La inverse triple-decker structure with two conjoined B8 rings sharing a pair of B atoms due to strong inter-layer B–B bonding. The tilted structure enhances both B–B and B–La bonding, resulting in a highly stable inverse triple-decker structure. Theoretical calculations further show that multi-decker conjoined structures are viable as a new class of 1D lanthanide boron nanostructures.