Applications of Fullerenes You Probably Didn’t Know About


The discovery of Fullerenes paved the way for the success of many applications. This is because of its unique chemical and physical properties. Buckminsterfullerene was the first fullerene to be discovered. It was named after Richard Buckminster Fuller who popularised the geodesic dome.

Buckminsterfullerene is an allotrope of carbon discovered in 1985. This led to the successive findings of a number of other compounds that were known as fullerenes. The most popular synthesis is C60. The C60 is subject to a lot of research because of its potential. It is made of 60 carbons at 60 vertices that form a dome-like structure.

For awareness sake, here are the applications of fullerenes:

Act as an antioxidant
In the medical field, fullerenes make an excellent antioxidant. This is because they possess conjugated double bonds. It also presents high electron affinity. Fullerenes react with many radicals before being consumed. The truth is a single C60 molecule can mingle with up to 34 methyl radicals. With this, fullerenes are considered the most efficient radical scavengers in the world.

Act as an antiviral agent

Fullerenes gathered the attention of the medical field because of its potential as an antiviral agent. In a study, it was found that it has the ability to overpower the replication of the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Through this, it can slow the onset of the AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

Act as efficient drug delivery
When you hear drug delivery, it refers to the efficient flow of pharmaceutical compounds to the site of action. This is because fullerenes are considered inorganic carriers, which are preferred because it has greater selectivity and compatibility. As an addition, they are small enough to be dispersed.

Act as a medium for conversion of solar energy
Aside from medical application, fullerenes can also be used in solar cells. You have to know that a polymer-based organic photovoltaic cell holds potential in finding a lightweight and economical medium for the conversion of solar energy. The main function of the solar cell is to transform the electrons from a material that gets agitated when irradiated with light.

Act as hydrogen gas storage
One thing remarkable about fullerenes is that it can hydrogenate and de-hydrogenate without difficulty. Fullerene carbon rings are enclosed with C-C double bonds. Hydrogenation will allow this bond to be broken quite easily forming C-C single and C-H bonds. If heat is applied, C-H bonds will break immediately giving back fullerene. This holds a potential when it comes to creating more efficient and safe hydrogen storage devices.

Act as hardening agents
Experts are looking into developing lightweight materials with higher tensile strength without compromising the metal’s ductility through fullerenes. Fullerenes are small having high reactivity because of the hybridization of sp2. In fact, with the addition of fullerenes, researchers observed a 30% increase in the hardness of a lightweight alloy.

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