Researchers from the University of California-Davis have
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Researchers from the University of California-Davis have created Sc3N@C78

May 13, 2010
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.

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