20 Fascinating Boron Facts for Your Project

by Sankalan Baidya
boron facts

Boron is a fascinating element. Scientists call it a multipurpose element simply because of the myriads of uses of this element. In this article, we are going to learn 20 fascinating Boron facts that you might need for your school project. If not, consider it as a refresher course or simply, you can just have fun playing quiz with your friends. So, instead of wasting time, let us simply begin…

Before we start with the facts, here is a quick table that might come in handy:

Element Name Boron
Element Symbol B
Element Family Group 13 or Earth Metal Family or Boron Family
Color Black
State Solid
Atomic Weight 10.81
Melting Point 2,075°C or 3,767°F or 2,348 Kelvin
Boiling Point 3,727°C or 7,232°F or 4,000 Kelvin
Density at 20°C 2.34 g/cm3
Number of Electrons 5
Number of Protons 5
Number of Neutrons (As found in most abundant isotope) 6
Electron Configuration 1s22s22p1
Known Isotopes 6B
10B – Stable Isotope
11B – Stable Isotope
Element Structure Rhombohedral but Isotope 12B is Icosahedral.
Atomic Radius 85 pm
Hardness 9.3 Mohs

Now that we are done with basic table, we can proceed with the facts. Let’s begin…

Fascinating Boron Facts (Discovery History): 1-5

1. Boron is not new to mankind. Since ancient times, Boron compounds such as Borax (Chemical name: Sodium Tetraborate | Chemical formula: Na2B4O7.10H2O) has been in use. However, Boron was never isolated until the beginning of 19th century.

2. It was only in 1808 that first attempts to isolate Boron were made. L. J. Thenard and Joseph L. Gay-Lussac were the two French chemists who managed to isolate Boron but only partially. What they did was that they used sodium or magnesium and made it react with boric acid. The end result was a gray solid.

3. Thenard and Gay-Lussac were convinced that the resultant gray solid had some common characteristics with phosphorus and sulfur and hence, they came up with the name Bore.

4. In 1808, in London, Sir Humphry Davy managed to isolate Boron (also partially) independently of the two French chemists mentioned above. Davy first tried electrolysis of boric acid. However, the results that he achieved didn’t satisfy him. So, he used a hydrogen-rich atmosphere where he made potassium react with boric acid. The end result was that he found a substance that was powdery in nature.

5. Davy noted that the powdery substance didn’t make any scratch on a glass surface and that its color was the darkest shade that one can find in olive. After conducting various experiments with the powdery substance, he concluded that the substance was metallic by nature and proposed Boracium as its name.

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Fascinating Boron Facts (Discovery History): 6-10

6. However, it was in year 1824 when Jöns Jakob Berzelius – a chemist from Sweden identified that Boron was actually an element.

7. The isolation attempts of 1808 only yielded 60% pure Boron. So, the hunt for pure Boron didn’t end. In 1909 came Ezekiel Weintraub – a chemist from America who used hydrogen to reduce Boron Halides and extracted Boron with 99% purity.

8. In 2004 came Vladimir L. Solozhenko and Jiuhua Chen. These people together managed to come up with a new form of Boron but they were shrouded with uncertainty about the structure of this new Boron type they discovered.

9. In 2009 Artem Oganov led a team to find a completely new Boron form. This new form was made up of two different structures – B2 pairs and B12 icosohedra. This Boron as discovered was called by the name Gamma-Boron. One of the most interesting properties of Gamma-Boron is that compared to diamond, it has far more heat resistance while in terms of hardness, it is as hard as diamond.

Boron Properties:

10. Now coming to physical properties of Boron, did you know that Boron is a really tough element? When it is in crystalline form, Boron has a hardness of 9.3 Mohs. This makes Boron as the second toughest after diamond (carbon).

Fascinating Boron Facts (Boron Properties): 11-15

11. Boron has a very high melting point. There are only 11 other elements which are known to have melting points higher than Boron. These elements are given in the table below:

Element Name Element Symbol
Carbon C
Tungsten W
Rhenium Re
Osmium Os
Tantalum Ta
Molybdenum Mo
Niobium Nb
Iridium Ir
Ruthenium Ru
Hafnium Hf
Technetium Tc

12. Boron is available both in Amorphous form and Crystalline form. The Amorphous form is the form where an element is not present in crystalline form but in form of a powder (non-crystalline) where the atoms of an element are arranged in any random order.

13. Crystalline Boron is black but Amorphous Boron has brown color. The crystalline format is not very reactive but the amorphous Boron is pretty reactive.

14. At room temperature, Boron is a very poor conductor.

15. Boron is a metalloid. This simply means that this element exhibits the properties of both nonmetals and metals. This makes the element a very very complicated element.

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Fascinating Boron Facts (General and Random Boron Facts): 16-20

16. Though there are many isotopes of Boron, there are only two isotopes that occur naturally and are stable. These are 10B and 11B. 10B forms 19.9% of all naturally occurring Boron. 11B makes up the remaining 80.1% of naturally occurring Boron.

17. Boron has a very high tendency of combining with carbon. This is the reason why, creating pure Boron even in laboratory conditions is pretty difficult.

18. Here is something really interesting. Take Boron solution and add some glue into it. The end result is that you get something called oobleck. It is a non-Newtonian fluid. What does that mean? It means that you try to pour it down slowly and it will act like a liquid. Now, put it under pressure and it will act like solid.

19. Boron actually gets its name from Borax. Borax in turn gets its name from ‘Buraq’, which is an Arabic word. Buraq means white.

20. How did Boron come into this universe? It was not Big Bang that brought this element. It was not even nuclear fusion taking place inside stars. So, what was it? It was nuclear fusion taking place in collision of cosmic rays. Scientists say that most of the Boron that is present today was actually formed before our solar system came to existence.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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