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Tiny buckyballs squeeze hydrogen like giant Jupiter
Date:3/20/2008

on molecules called fullerenes. The family includes carbon nanotubes, the typical 60-atom buckyball and larger buckyballs composed of 2,000 or more atoms.

"Bonds between carbon atoms are among the strongest chemical bonds in nature," Yakobson said. "These bonds are what make diamond the hardest known substance, and our research showed that it takes an enormous amount of internal pressure to deform and break the carbon-carbon bonds in a fullerene."

Using a computer model, Yakobson's research team has tracked the strength of each atomic bond in a buckyball and simulated what happened to the bonds as more hydrogen atoms were packed inside. Yakobson said the model promises to be particularly useful because it is scalable, that is it can calculate exactly how much hydrogen a buckyball of any given size can hold, and it can also tell scientists how overstuffed buckyballs burst open and release their cargo.

If a feasible way to produce hydrogen-filled buckyballs is developed, Yakobson said, it might be possible to store them as a powder.

"They will likely assemble into weak molecular crystals or form a thin powder," he said. "They might find use in their whole form or be punctured under certain conditions to release pure hydrogen for fuel cells or other types of engines."


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Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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