Is Boron a Nonmetal? (Why?)

No, boron is not a nonmetal. It is a metalloid that exhibits properties of both metals and nonmetals. While it shares some chemical characteristics with nonmetals, such as its tendency to form covalent compounds, it also has properties typically associated with metals, such as its high melting point and ability to conduct heat. 1

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s understand this in detail.

What makes boron a metalloid?

The following are some properties of boron that make it a metalloid:

  1. Electrical conductivity: Boron is a semiconductor and exhibits intermediate electrical conductivity. It has 3 valence electrons and can form covalent bonds with other elements. 2 This ability to form covalent bonds allows it to conduct electricity, but not as well as metals like copper or silver. This intermediate conductivity is a characteristic feature of metalloids.
  2. Thermal conductivity: Boron has high thermal conductivity, similar to metals, but it is not as good as metals like copper or aluminum. This property makes it useful in applications where thermal management is important, such as in the production of heat-resistant materials. 3
  3. Brittleness: Boron is a brittle material, meaning that it is prone to breaking or shattering when subjected to stress. This property is more typical of nonmetals than metals, but boron’s other properties, such as its electrical and thermal conductivity, place it in the metalloid category. 4
  4. Chemical reactivity: Boron is not very reactive at room temperature and is relatively stable in air. However, it can react with certain elements under the right conditions, such as with oxygen at high temperatures. This property is similar to nonmetals, which generally have low reactivity, but can still undergo chemical reactions.
  5. Metal-like appearance: Boron is a dark, lustrous material, similar in appearance to metals. This visual similarity to metals is another characteristic feature of metalloids, which can possess properties of both metals and nonmetals.

In summary, boron’s intermediate electrical conductivity, high thermal conductivity, brittleness, chemical reactivity, and metal-like appearance are all properties that contribute to its classification as a metalloid. 

These properties make it a versatile material with numerous applications, such as in the production of semiconductors, refractory materials, and high-strength alloys. 5

Further reading

Why is Oxygen a Nonmetal?
Is Neon a Metal?
Is Sodium a Metal or Nonmetal?
Is Silicon a Metal or Nonmetal?
Is Phosphorus a Metal or Nonmetal? 

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  1. P. (n.d.). Boron | B (Element) – PubChem. Boron | B (Element) – PubChem.
  2. Boron – Wikipedia. (2011, December 4). Boron – Wikipedia.
  3. Cai, Q., Scullion, D., Gan, W., Falin, A., Zhang, S., Watanabe, K., Taniguchi, T., Chen, Y., Santos, E. J. G., & Li, L. H. (2019, June 7). High thermal conductivity of high-quality monolayer boron nitride and its thermal expansion. Science Advances, 5(6).
  4. Boron | Properties, Uses, & Facts. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica.

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