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Chemistry
2020 Project Proposal

Formation and chemical functionalization of endohedral metallofullerenes

Christopher Smart (Chemistry)

Endohedral metallofullerenes are produced when graphite rods, doped with rare-earth metal oxides, are vaporized in an electric arc flame.  The exterior surface of the carbon cage of these metallofullerenes can then be modified by standard organic chemical reactions, allowing a variety of chemical functionalities to be incorporated in the molecular structure.  Our intention is to make new medicines by attaching antioxidant functionality to the fullerene surface of endohedral metallofullerenes.

The experimental work of this project will begin with optimizing and running the arc-vapor synthesis reactor to produce endohedral metallofullerenes of the desired structure.  This will include purification of product mixtures and identification of the pure compounds.  Once pure endohedral compounds are prepared, we will explore the surface chemistry of the metallofullerenes via organic reactions that are known for the surfaces of empty-cage fullerenes.  We will attempt to incorporate anti-oxidant molecular functionality by using these reactions to connect known antioxidants to the fullerene surface.  New products will be purified and characterized by standard spectroscopic techniques such as NMR, IR, UV-visible spectroscopy and elemental analysis.  We will also measure the antioxidant capacity of any new fullerene-containing compounds by standard electrochemical techniques.

Prerequisites:
Two semesters of Organic Chemistry (equivalent to CHEM 244/245) is highly recommended.  Prior research experience is NOT required.

How should students express interest in this project?
Students interested in this project should contact me by email (chsmart@vassar.edu) to arrange for a short interview with me.

This is a 10 week project running from May 27-July 31