Titanium oxide nanocluster has been captured under electron microscope

American Chemical Society

The fullerene-type structure consists of seven-coordinate (blue) and five-coordinate (green) titanium, and oxygen (red)

Scientists in China have made a titanium oxide cage that closely resembles a fullerene. The shell contains 42 titanium atoms, trumping the previous record of 34 for a titanium–oxo nanocluster.

Since the discovery of C60 buckministerfullerene in 1985, synthetic chemists have attempted to create a wide array of large molecular clusters from the elusive buckyball boron to polyzinc clusters that are challenging our view of aromaticity.

Now, Mei-Yan Gao and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have synthesised the first fullerene-like titanium oxide sphere. Formed from the reaction between Ti(OiPr)4 and formic acid in an autoclave, the H6[Ti42(µ3-O)60(OiPr)42(OH)12] structure consists of a Ti12 and Ti30 polyhedron, with a diameter of 1.53nm.

The team was also able to layer the titanium oxide spheres over a thin film, copper-based metal organic framework and take a snapshot of the surface using a transmission electron microscope.