Senile Old Coot
A new molecule takes its place among buckyballs, carbon nanotubes and other odd forms of carbon.
Unstable as all Gollum, but an 18 atom carbon ring has been created. Oh, Carbon, you big tease.Chemists thought that it should be possible to create the ring-shaped molecules of carbon. But until now, nobody knew what their properties would be, says physicist Katharina Kaiser of IBM Research in Zurich. “It’s really amazing that we found it and it’s absolutely great that we could characterize it.”
In the lab, Kaiser and colleagues started with molecules of cyclocarbon oxide, which consist of carbon atoms arranged in a loop with additional carbon monoxide groups attached to the atoms. Removing the carbon monoxide to create the coveted new form of carbon is no easy task; those groups help to stabilize the molecule. Using an atomic force microscope, the researchers managed to pluck off the extraneous carbon monoxide by applying voltages to the molecule.
Eventually, the procedure yielded a bare ring of carbon, which the team imaged with the microscope. Cyclocarbon reacts easily with other substances, so to isolate it, the team created the new carbon molecule on an inert surface of table salt.
Chemists have their priorities straight.he result had eluded chemists for so long that Tykwinski had placed a bet about whether cyclocarbon would be created and imaged. “I basically won a bottle of scotch from a friend,” he says.