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Elucidation of Chemical Reaction of Fullerene Molecules by High-Resolution Electron Microscopy

Masanori Koshino, the Nano-carbon Characterization Teamnd Toshiya Okazaki of the Nanotube Research Center, Hiromichi Kataura, the Self-Assembled Nano-Electronics Group of the Nanotechnology Research Institute, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Yoshiko Niimi, the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), and Eiichi Nakamura, the Department of Chemistry, Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo, have jointly succeeded in the atomic level analysis of the reactivity and selectivity of the dimerization reaction of fullerene molecules.

Model of C60 fullerene. At which vertex or on which side of the pentagon and hexagon will two molecules be combined?

In this study, the group confined the fullerene molecules in single-walled carbon nanotubes and optimized the chemical reactivity of the molecules by changing parameters such as concentration, temperature, effects of metal atoms and energy imparted, thereby visualizing the chemical reaction of the molecules under a high-resolution electron microscope with an aberration correction system. The visualization revealed that the orientation of each molecule directly affected the reaction. It is expected that this technique has a wide variety of applications including elucidation of various reaction mechanisms and molecular design, e.g., in the development of new drugs.

The results were obtained from the ERATO research project titled "Nakamura Active Carbon Cluster Project" (Research General Manager: Eiichi Nakamura) and the research theme "Development of low-acceleration and high-sensitivity electron microscope enabling observation of soft matters at molecular and atomic levels" (Research representative: Kazutomo Suenaga) in the CREST research field titled "New measurement and analysis base technique contributing to elucidation and application of material phenomena" (Research General Manager: Michiyoshi Tanaka, Emeritus Professor, Tohoku University); the projects were implemented under the Basic Research Programs of JST. The details of the research will be published in an online edition of a British scientific journal, "Nature Chemistry," at 3 am, January 11, 2010 (Japan standard time).

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