Planar B41− and B42− clusters with double-hexagonal vacancies†
Since the discovery of the B40 borospherene, research interests have been directed to the structural evolution of even larger boron clusters. An interesting question concerns if the borospherene cages persist in larger boron clusters like the fullerenes. Here we report a photoelectron spectroscopy (PES) and computational study on the structures and bonding of B41− and B42−, the largest boron clusters characterized experimentally thus far. The PE spectra of both clusters display broad and complicated features, suggesting the existence of multiple low-lying isomers. Global minimum searches for B41− reveal three low-lying isomers (I–III), which are all related to the planar B40− structure. Isomer II (Cs, 1A′) possessing a double hexagonal vacancy is found to agree well with the experiment, while isomers I (Cs, 3A′′) and III (Cs, 1A′) both with a single hexagonal vacancy are also present as minor isomers in the experiment. The potential landscape of B42− is found to be much more complicated with numerous low-lying isomers (VII–XII). The quasi-planar structure VIII (C1, 2A) containing a double hexagonal vacancy is found to make major contributions to the observed PE spectrum of B42−, while the other low-lying isomers may also be present to give rise to a complicated spectral pattern. Chemical bonding analyses show isomer II of B41− (Cs, 1A′) and isomer VIII of B42− (C1, 2A) are π aromatic, analogous to that in the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon C27H13+ (C2v, 1A1). Borospherene cage isomers are also found for both B41− and B42− in the global minimum searches, but they are much higher energy isomers.