Boron science: new technologies and applications

Narayan Hosmane (ed)

CRC Press

2011 | 878pp | £191 (HB)

ISBN 9781439826621

Reviewed by Norman Godfrey

Hold on to your hat! Boron chemistry has become exciting after languishing in the backwaters of chemical curiosity for many years is the message that Narayan Hosmane and his 57 co-contributors wish to broadcast in their extensive review of the applications of boron in 'the exciting and growing area it is today'. However, it is not clear to me who they are aiming their message at.

It is difficult to find technical fault with a heavy volume whose creation involved so many distinguished authors and reviewers. The result of their cumulative knowledge of the application of boron in the fields of chemistry, industry, medicine and pharmacology is comprehensive but, as a result, it is probably too expensive to be anything other than a library item. Consequently, I believe that an opportunity has been missed to encourage the students of today to become the boron researchers of tomorrow. A distillation of the 29 chapters down into one each for the seven topical areas described, with an opening chapter setting the scene (based on the list of 'traditional' technologies identified on the rear cover) could have become a significant reference book for undergraduate main group chemistry lectures on boron.

The book is well illustrated throughout, structures and mechanisms are generally clear, never a mean feat in boron chemistry, in particular where cluster compounds are being described. The authors have also included some colour plates to illustrate the medical applications described in chapter three, where the black and white versions are unclear. However, in my review copy, these plates appeared in the middle of chapter 13, a description of applications in non-linear optics, some 200 pages away from the relevant part of the book!

Overall I expect that many chemists will enjoy dipping into the book to update their knowledge of topics of interest but I feel that it is unlikely to be anyone's coffee-table book or bedside reading.