A fullerene-like molecule composed entirely of metal atoms

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molecular structure [K@Au12Sb20]5– cluster. debt: Science (2023) DOI: 10.1126/science.adj6491

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molecular structure [K@Au12Sb20]5– cluster. debt: Science (2023) DOI: 10.1126/science.adj6491

A small team of chemists from Nankai University, Nanjing Tech University and Shanxi University in China, working with a colleague from Universidad San Sebastian in Chile, has created, for the first time, a fullerene-like molecule made entirely of metal atoms. .

In their paper Published In the magazine ScienceThe team describes how they accidentally created the molecule while conducting research experiments with atoms of antimony, potassium, and gold.

Fullerene is a form of carbon where its molecules are linked by single and double bonds, resulting in a closed cage-like structure. This was first realized in 1985, and since then similar inorganic fullerenes have been developed using various compounds. But until now, none of them have been completely metallic.

In this new effort, researchers have found a way to create an all-metal molecule, like a fullerene, made of 20 antimony atoms, 12 gold atoms and one potassium.

The team found that such a molecule could be made by crystallization using a synthesis method that combines high-temperature solid-phase synthesis with organometallic chemistry.

In their process, they grew crystals made of a metal fullerene-like molecule in the form of a dodecahedral cluster. In such a structure, potassium atoms sit in the center, while antimony atoms form the vertices. At the center of each face is a gold atom. The team describes their discovery as a complete surprise – they knew the crystals would be new, but didn’t know what it was.

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The research team notes that the molecule is highly unstable, so it may not be useful for any known applications. But the bond achieved provides insight into metal bonding in general, which can be useful in certain types of research.

For example, a part of the structure where two faces join side by side, forming a butterfly shape, is described as a superatom because it represents a spherical atom. They conclude by suggesting that methods similar to theirs can be used to create other interesting and useful nanostructures.

More information:
Yu-Hee Choo et al., All-Metal Fullerenes: [K@Au12Sb20]5–, Science (2023) DOI: 10.1126/science.adj6491

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