There can be no doubt that fullerene research is both interesting and varied; we have created carbon nanotubes from them, we can put things inside them, they have diverse medical uses, and recently evidence has been presented suggesting that they are found in space. In this paper, Raggi et al. take a computational approach to investigate the dielectric properties of C60, the smallest of the fullerene family, and the first to be predicted and discovered.
The results of their study are quite striking. They found that by varying the distance between the fullerene and the point charge, the surface charge density of C60 can be manipulated. In other words, they predict that one could selectively polarise a fullerene molecule to a greater or lesser extent. They were also able to predict the separation parameters necessary in order to achieve this, including identifying the tipping point at which the charge distribution is expressed as a purely positive hemisphere and a purely negative hemisphere.
This study has important implications for future studies into fullerenes as it demonstrates that assuming a uniform surface charge density can only be valid above a certain threshold separation from the point charge. As well as being important to the understanding of fullerene-ion collisions, this new insight could potentially lead towards an understanding of fullerene fission mechanisms.
by Victoria Parkes
Read the full details of this exciting research in PCCP:
Surface-charge distribution on a dielectric sphere due to an external point charge: examples of C60 and C240 fullerenes
Gerardo Raggi, Anthony J. Stace and Elena Bichoutskaia