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New fullerene molecule has many possible applications

Molecule has spherical carbon cage surrounding triangular cluster of three scandium atoms

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, have created Sc3N@C78, a molecule that may have applications in batteries and microelectronic components, chemical sensors and catalysts. Using crystal X-ray diffraction, the research team determined the structure of the molecule (a type of fullerene) consists of a spherical carbon cage surrounding a triangular cluster of three scandium atoms with a nitrogen center.

Fullerenes--commonly referred to as Buckyballs--are hollow, shell-like structures consisting of up to 80 carbon atoms bonded in pentagon rings. Sc3N@C78 is the only structure that researchers know contains an internal Sc3N group.

The researchers used arc vaporization, a common technique for making Buckyballs, to create Sc3N@C78, along with the related structures Sc3N@C80 and Sc3N@C68. Arc vaporization is a process by which electrically-charged graphite rods touch and then separate, triggering an arc of electricity. The arc vaporizes the graphite which creates soot from which researchers filter out the fullerenes.

Credit: Created by Dr. Marilyn M. Olmstead from data in: M.M. Olmstead, A. de Bettencourt-Dias, J.C. Duchamp, S. Stevenson, D. Marciu, H.C. Dorn and A.L. Balch, Isolation and Structural Characterization of the Endohedral Fullerene Sc3N@C78.

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