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HomeNanotechonologyNanomaterialsScientists create a new, ultra-hard substance

Scientists create a new, ultra-hard substance

Fullerene. Credit: Shutterstock

Russian scientists have manufactured a new carbon-scandium-based ultrahard material. It is made up of polymerized fullerene molecules containing scandium and carbon atoms. This research lays the path for further studies of fullerene-based ultra-hard materials, making them a candidate for photovoltaic and optical devices, nanoelectronics and optoelectronics components, and biomedical engineering as high-performance contrast agents. The research was printed in Carbon.

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The discovery of new, all-carbon molecules known as fullerenes about forty years ago was a major achievement that cleared the way for the development of fullerene nanotechnology. Fullerenes have a soccer-ball-like spherical form composed of pentagons and hexagons, and a cavity inside the carbon framework of their molecules may house a variety of atoms.

Endohedral metallofullerenes (EMF) are technologically and scientifically significant due to their distinctive architectures and optoelectronic capabilities.

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Researchers from NUST MISIS, the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials, and the Kirensky Institute of Physics have explored the polymerization process of scandium-containing EMFs for the first time. Polymerization is the process through which free molecules get chemically linked to form a polymerized substance. Under high pressure, the majority of polymerization reactions proceed at a faster rate.

After obtaining scandium-containing fullerenes from carbon condensate using a high-frequency arc discharge plasma, they were placed in a diamond anvil cell, the most adaptable and widely used device for generating extremely high pressures.

“We’ve discovered that guest atoms enhance polymerization. Scandium atoms entirely alter the fullerene bonding process by polarizing the carbon bonds, hence increasing their chemical activity. The material obtained was less rigid than polymerized fullerenes in their purest form, and it was easier to obtain “senior researcher at the NUST MISIS Laboratory of Inorganic Nanomaterials Pavel Sorokin stated.

The researchers believe that the study will pave the way for studies of fullerite endohedral complexes as a macroscopic material and make it possible to consider EMF not only as a nanostructure of fundamental interest but also as a promising material that may be in demand in the future in various fields of science and technology.

Further information: S.V. Erohin et al, Insights into fullerene polymerization under the high pressure: The role of endohedral Sc dimer, Carbon (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2021.12.040

Journal information: Carbon

Source: The National University of Science and Technology MISIS

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