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Chemistry
Completed Project

Synthesis and Functionalization of Endohedral Metallofullerenes

Christopher T. Triggs ’21 and Professor Chris Smart (Chemistry)

Fullerenes are a novel allotrope of carbon that consist of empty, spherical carbon cages of varying size. Metallic nitride fullerenes (MNFs), M3N@C2n, are an especially stable family of endohedral metallofullerenes (EMFs) that have been shown to have unique electronic and chemical properties relative to empty fullerenes and other EMFs. Functionalizing the exohedral surfaces of MNFs has been shown to enhance the physical properties of the compounds, but successful functionalization is relatively limited due to the variance in electronic properties exhibited by different encapsulated metal species and different carbon cage sizes. In this research, MNFs of interest (M=Sc,Gd,Lu) were synthesized from their corresponding metal oxide, M2O3, using an arc vapor deposition reactor under a He and N2 atmosphere. In the reactor, high current was run between an interchangeable metal oxide packed graphite anode and a simple graphite cathode to produce a hot plasma that vaporized the packing material and subsequently deposited a carbonaceous soot consisting of both empty fullerenes and MNFs on the reactor lid interior. Upcoming work on this project will entail the use of the Bingel, Prato, and Diels-Alder reactions to potentially produce novel functionalized MNFs, once significant quantities of desirable MNFs have been produced and isolated.