Tokyo Tech News

Hydrogen boride nanosheets: A promising material for hydrogen carrier


Published: October 25, 2019

Hydrogen boride nanosheets: A promising material for hydrogen carrier

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Tsukuba, and colleagues in Japan report a promising hydrogen carrier in the form of hydrogen boride nanosheets1. This two-dimensional material, which has only recently begun to be explored, could go on to be used as safe, light-weight, high-capacity hydrogen storage materials.

Hydrogen boride nanosheets (HB sheets) release hydrogen under UV light

Figure 1. Hydrogen boride nanosheets (HB sheets) release hydrogen under UV light

The hydrogen storage and release capacity of HB sheets is exceptionally high due to their two-dimensional nature and unique electronic band structure.

Innovative nanosheets made from equal parts of hydrogen and boron have a greater capacity to store and release hydrogen compared with conventional metal-based materials.

This finding by researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), University of Tsukuba, Kochi University of Technology and the University of Tokyo reinforces the view that hydrogen boride nanosheets (HB sheets) could go beyond graphene as a nano-sized multifunctional material.

Their study, published in Nature Communications, found that hydrogen can be released in significant amounts (up to eight weight percent) from HB sheets under ultraviolet light, even under mild conditions — that is, at ambient room temperature and pressure.

Such an easy-to-handle setup opens up possibilities for HB sheets to be utilized as highly efficient hydrogen carriers, which are expected to become increasingly in demand as a clean energy source in the coming decades.

When HB sheets burst onto the scene in 2017, scientists recognized they could become an exciting new material for energy, catalysis and environmental applications. The breakthrough research garnered plaudits for its creative approach to materials design. A review article published in Chem in 2018 hailed the successful realization of HB sheets as "an exquisite example of human ingenuity at the pinnacle of innovative synthetic chemistry.outer"

HB sheets are expected to be applied for light-weight, light-responsive, and safe hydrogen carrier. Currently, HB sheets are only responsive to ultra-violet light, thus, the visible-light sensitivity is important for their industrial application.

Also, refilling of hydrogen remains a key challenge in developing sustainable, viable hydrogen storage solutions. To address this issue, Miyauchi explains his team is investigating the visible-light sensitivity, rechargeability, and long-term durability of HB sheets.

"Cost reduction of the starting materials — magnesium diboride — for HB sheets will be another important factor," he adds.

The cross-institutional study showcases the predictive power of first-principles calculations2 in materials science, namely as a way of investigating the mechanism of hydrogen release.

Comments by Miyauchi

Miyauchi (left) and Kawamura
Miyauchi (left) and Kawamura

To realize a world that can reap the benefits of hydrogen, development of safe, lightweight, and energy-saving hydrogen transport technology is urgently needed. I am confident that the material technology created through our study will contribute to achieving this future hydrogen society.

This work was made possible by the combined strength of young researchers and interdisciplinary collaboration. The results are based on the bachelor’s thesis of Reiya Kawamura, a master’s student in our lab. Mr. Kawamura is the first author of the Nature Communications paper and has also applied for a patent for the technology. Teamwork by specialists spanning across fields was also vital to this research. I would like to express my appreciation to Prof. Takahiro Kondo from Tsukuba University, who was the first to establish the synthesis method for hydrogen boride nanosheets, and to the many others who contributed to the computational science and synchrotron radiation analysis. This is a wonderful example of interdisciplinary research resulting in new materials and technologies.


hydrogen boride nanosheets: Two-dimensional materials derived from magnesium diboride (MgB2) that were first reported by researchers in Japan in 2017. The nanosheets exhibit extraordinary electronic and mechanical properties in addition to hydrogen storage capacity.


First-principles calculations: Referring to a way of calculating mechanical, electronic or other properties of a given material based on the laws of quantum mechanics, which can lead to useful, predictive results prior to experimentation.


Authors :
Reiya Kawamura1,8, Nguyen Thanh Cuong2,8, Takeshi Fujita3, Ryota Ishibiki4, Toru Hirabayashi1, Akira Yamaguchi1, Iwao Matsuda5, Susumu Okada2, Takahiro Kondo6,7,* and Masahiro Miyauchi1
Title of original paper :
Photoinduced hydrogen release from hydrogen boride sheets.
Journal :
Nature Communications (2019).
Affiliations :

1Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology

2Department of Physics, Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, University of Tsukuba

3School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Kochi University of Technology

4Graduate School of Pure and Applied Sciences, University of Tsukuba

5Institute for Solid State Physics, University of Tokyo

6Department of Materials Science and Tsukuba Research Center for Energy Materials Science, Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, University of Tsukuba

7Materials Research Center for Element Strategy, Tokyo Institute of Technology

8These authors equally contributed to this work.

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Further Information

Professor Masahiro Miyauchi

School of Materials and Chemical Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tel +81-3-5734-2527


Public Relations Section, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tel +81-3-5734-2975