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Isolation and Crystallographic Characterization of La2C2@Cs(574)‑C102 and La2C2@C2(816)‑C104: Evidence for the Top-Down Formation Mechanism of Fullerenes

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posted on 09.05.2016, 00:00 by Wenting Cai, Fang-Fang Li, Lipiao Bao, Yunpeng Xie, Xing Lu
Tubular higher fullerenes are prototypes of finite-length end-capped carbon nanotubes (CNTs) whose structures can be accurately characterized by single-crystal X-ray diffraction crystallography. We present here the isolation and crystallographic characterization of two unprecedented higher fullerenes stabilized by the encapsulation of a La2C2 cluster, namely, La2C2@Cs(574)-C102, which has a perfect tubular cage corresponding to a short (10, 0) zigzag carbon nanotube, and La2C2@C2(816)-C104 which has a defective cage with a pyracylene motif inserting into the cage waist. Both cages provide sufficient spaces for the large La2C2 cluster to adopt a stretched and nearly planar configuration, departing from the common butterfly-like configuration which has been frequently observed in midsized carbide metallofullerenes (e.g., Sc2C2@C80–84), to achieve strong metal–cage interactions. More meaningfully, our crystallographic results demonstrate that the defective cage of C2(816)-C104 is a starting point to form the other three tubular cages known so far, i.e., D5(450)-C100, Cs(574)-C102, and D3d(822)-C104, presenting evidence for the top-down formation mechanism of fullerenes. The fact that only the large La2C2 cluster has been found in giant fullerene cages (C>100) and the small clusters M2C2 (M = Sc, Y, Er, etc.) are present in midsized fullerenes (C80–C86) indicates that geometrical matching between the cluster and the cage, which ensures strong metal–cage interactions, is an important factor controlling the stability of the resultant metallofullerenes, in addition to charge transfer.