This article reviews recent work in Los Angeles on elementary processes in fullerene vapors. The production of fullerene molecules typically involves extreme high-temperature conditions and processes which are poorly understood at date [1-3]. Once generated, these molecules may represent the most stable molecules known [4,5]. In a recent work [C. Yeretzian et al., Nature 359, 44 (1992)] we presented clear evidence for coalescence reactions between fullerene molecules. Mass spectrometric measurements on hot, dense vapors of small fullerenes (C60 and C70) reveal the formation of stable higher fullerenes which are multiples of the initial masses. These processes are shown to occur in the gas-phase rather than in the solid film and their dependences on laser fluence and He-gas pressure are investigated. Three distinct reactions are proposed-coalescence, emission and capture-to account for the observed distributions at higher fullerene sizes. Specifically, the heat of coalescence is released through emission of small, even-numbered fragments which, in a very dense vapor, are efficiently captured by other coalesced fullerenes. These findings have implications for the long-time stability of the fullerene vapor, and for the mechanism of fullerene formation and growth, and may open new ways to the synthesis of selected higher fullerenes and encapsulation compounds.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics