Prediction of superhard B2N3 with two-dimensional metallicity†
Materials possessing both superhard and metallic properties are beneficial for the creation of multifunctional devices under extreme conditions. Here, we report the formation of a new metallic superhard boron nitride at high pressure with stoichiometry B2N3 through first-principles calculations and structure searching. At ambient pressure, B2N3 has layered structures (h-B2N3) consisting of hexagonal B4N4 layers intercalated by triply bonded N2 molecules. With the pressure increasing to ∼10 GPa, h-B2N3 transforms to a three-dimensional tetragonal structure (t-B2N3) with the formation of single N–N bonds. Calculations reveal that t-B2N3 can be recovered under ambient conditions in view of the dynamical, thermal and mechanical stability. Interestingly, t-B2N3 is proposed to be a superhard material with an estimated Vicker's hardness of ∼52 GPa by performing stress–strain calculations. More importantly, electronic calculations show unique two-dimensional metallicity in t-B2N3, which originates from the π orbitals of N–N bonds spreading in the ab plane. In addition, the energy density of ∼2.95 kJ g−1 makes t-B2N3 a potential high-energy density material.