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College of Arts and Sciences

A&S Events

2020-2021 Distinguished Lecturer Series presents Professor Steven Stevenson

“Discovery of New Molecules of Tubular Carbon (Fullertubes)”

Stevenson Website

  • Friday, March 19, 2021, at noon in the virtual lecture hall
  •  For centuries, it was believed that nature had only two forms of carbon, i.e.diamond and graphite. Indeed, this was true at the time. For diamond, carbon atoms are arranged in a tetrahedral shape. However, the carbon atoms of graphite are layered in a planar stacking of hexagonal sheets. In the mid-1980s, the Nobel Prize winning team of Smalley, Curl, and Kroto introduced a third form of carbon. In these fullerene molecules, carbon atoms are arranged in a spheroidal shape, such as a soccer-ball for C60 or a rugby ball for C70. A decade later, in the 1990s, scientists discovered the nanotube. Carbon nanotubes vary in diameter and length, but they possess an undefined number of atoms. The structure of nanotubes consists of carbon atoms arranged in the form of a hollow tube, but with no endcaps at either end, e.g., a straw-like form. In the pandemic year of 2020, we published a JACS paper (see link below) describing our experimental discovery and isolation of a new family of molecules that we named “fullertubes.” Their structural arrangement consists of fullerene-basedhemispherical endcaps and a tubular region resembling a belt of carbons, which is similar to nanotubes or a monolayer of rolled graphene. Unlike nanotubes, a unique feature of fullertubes is a reproducibility in synthesis and well-defined structural arrangement of atoms, and hence, a known molecular weight.

    I will begin by discussing the historical context and evolution of carbon and its forms and the serendipitous story surrounding the discovery of these new fullertube molecules. I will delve into their experimental synthesis, separation, and isolation here at Purdue University Fort Wayne, research and findings were made during the pandemic year of 2020.

    Koenig R.M. et. al., “Fullertubes: Cylindrical Carbon with Half-Fullerene End-Caps and Tubular Graphene Belts, Their Chemical Enrichment, Crystallography of Pristine C90-D5h(1) and C100-D5d(1) Fullertubes, and Isolation of C108, C120, C132, and C156 Cages of Unknown Structures,” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 142, 36, 15615-15623.  (Link)

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