Boron in Electronic Devices

Dec 20, 2021 | INDUSTRY SECTORS, Batteries and Capacitors

Boron in Electrical Devices

Manufacturers of electrical and electronic devices are constantly on the lookout for materials that will enhance performance in their consumer and industrial devices. Boron-infused components in electronic and smart devices offer a longer product life, provide better energy performance – longer battery life -, give off less heat, offer low resistance protection against electrical currents, are wear-resistant, and act as protective coatings and add strength to metals and glass. 

Boron Electronic Devices

Boron in Smartphones

Boron in Electronics

Borax is a mixture of minerals that contain boron (B) and is used to make microprocessors and camera chips in mobile phones. They are crucial components in many household brands, including iPhones. The processor of the phone is mainly made out of silicon. 

Borate-derived elements power electronic devices, from computers to phones. Boron is used in semiconductor devices such as integrated circuits and capacitors.  It helps form layers on metal that protect devices against corrosion. Boron also provides structural support and insulation. It enhances glass strength and clarity, and also has flame retardant properties. Borate-derived elements are used in smartphones, for example, because they not only provide these properties but also because they are relatively inexpensive.

Boron in Batteries

Boron nitride provides the structural support found in batteries and other essential components of smartphones such as SIM cards or CPUs. In addition to providing these benefits, Borates can be substituted for more harmful substances like lead. Borates make it possible for electronic semiconductors to operate at their total capacity. For high-efficiency power devices such as thermoelectric cooler packages (TECs), boron Nitride layers are commonly added to other materials, like Silicon Carbide (SiC).

Borate Glass

In the late 19th-century, Otto Schott, a German glassmaker, created borosilicate glass. This early borosilicate was later known as Jena Glass. Corning Glass Works created Pyrex, which became the English-speaking equivalent of borosilicate in 1915.  They discovered that adding small amounts of Boric Acid would provide more durability than standard soda-lime glasses. Thus Borate glasses came into existence. Borax glass is now valuable for smartphone screens and displays. It is due to its resistance to damage from scratches, heat, cold, or other outside forces.

Borosilicate glass refers to glass made from the main components of glass making, silica, and boron oxide. Borosilicate glasses have very low coefficients for thermal expansion (≈3 × 10−6 K−1 at 20 °C), making them more resistant to thermal shock than other standard glass. They are less prone to breakage due to their low coefficient of thermal expansion

Borate glass is a significant part of iPhones because it has a lower leakage current than silicon dioxide insulation material.

Protective Coatings and Insulation

Borates offer a protective coating to the electrical circuits from shorting out. They provide low resistance protection against electric currents. Borates also prevent corrosion on copper connections by providing better contact, thus lowering oxidation levels. Then, they act like glue to hold circuit boards together, which helps prevent the spread of fire.

Borides act like coatings and protect against weathering and corrosion of metal.  Boron is used in many smartphones because it can form a protective layer on the metal. It helps to prevent corrosion and borates make excellent semiconductor materials.

Boron nitride, too, is used in metals and carbonic materials have high thermal conductivity, but large free electrons in these materials can lead to electrical conduction. Inorganic ceramic materials, however, have excellent thermal conductivity and electrical insulation properties. Hexagonal Boron Nitride (h-BN), a joint III-V compound, has a crystal structure similar to graphite.

The two-dimensional stratiform crystal structure of h-BN provides intrinsic high thermal conductivity. Among ceramic materials, h-BN is the most thermally conductive. Its in-plane (001) thermal conductivity is 180200 W/(m*k). Because of its low thermal expansion coefficient, h-BN can maintain its original form at high temperatures. h-BN has a 5.9 eV energy gap and excellent electrical insulation properties. These merits make h-BN a promising candidate for a thermally conductive and electrically insulating filler.

Strengthening Material

Boron is available in high concentrations in the earth’s crust. It tends to form boron-silicate minerals that are perfect for strengthening metals. Compared to similar glassware, borosilicate glass can withstand blunt force impact better. It has a Shear modulus of 26.5– 27 GPa and Knoop hardness of 400–480 at 20°C.

When Carbon Nanotubes’ functional properties are not acceptable, commercial BNNTs can be used. BNNTs also have better electrical insulation properties than Carbon Nanotubes. They are also more resistant to wetting, mechanical strength, and thermal resistance. These properties are helpful for electronic, drug delivery, biomedical and energy applications, and environmental applications.

Composites made from BNNTs are used for structural reinforcement, mechanical reinforcement, thermal conductivity, high-temperature material processing, high temperatures applications (thermal barriers and fire resistance, etc. ), piezoelectric sensing, and energy harvesting.

Thermal Stability and Cooling

Boron nitride has a lower leakage current than silicon dioxide insulation material does. 

Borates also have excellent thermal stability, which means they can tolerate extreme heat or cold without any damages.

Eva Andrei, a Professor of Physics at Rutgers Department of Physics and Astronomy, explains in his research paper that graphene combined with boron has many properties that make it an ideal material for cooling. It is only one atom thick, and it conducts electricity better than copper.

To create a cooling mechanism, researchers combined graphene and boron nitride. Andrei claims the material is superior to silicon dioxide, currently used in computer chips. This is because it doesn’t scatter electrons (vehicles that heat away).

By adding voltage to boron Nitride, a current is sent through the apparatus, pushing electrons away from heat. This is active cooling, which is faster and more efficient than passive cooling.

Lubrication for Wear-resistance

Boron-based components have lubrication properties because of their low friction coefficient with other materials, even at higher temperatures. This makes them ideal for wear-resistant coatings on tools such as smartphones and devices.

In fuel additives, borate esters have been used to help prevent pre-ignition and keep carburetors clean. In aviation fuel, borates have been used to help prevent bacterial and fungal growth in storage or use tanks, yielding clean-burning energy.

Boron in Touchscreens

Borax glass for protection has been an alternative now for decades as a coating in smartphone screens. Boron nitride film is vital to creating touchscreens for smart devices as it’s conductive but not slippery. Boron carbide nanotubes are harder than diamonds so they are incredibly durable and flexible. They provide an effective barrier between human skin and any contaminants on a touch screen surface that may be pathogenic or toxic.