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An Atomic-Scale View of Cyclocarbon Synthesis

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An Atomic-Scale View of Cyclocarbon Synthesis

Combining organic synthesis with microscopy addresses long-standing bottlenecks in cyclocarbon production.


5 min read
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Scientists are adding microscopy to the organic chemist’s toolbox, introducing a world of possibilities.

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If you think microscopy is not useful to organic chemists, think again! A physics research group led by Professor Sabine Maier demonstrates how microscopy can be used to make and study fascinating carbon-based materials. The fact that there are different ways to combine carbon atoms means that it’s possible to create a variety of materials with unusual properties entirely from carbon. Anyone interested in the field of materials science will find this article intriguing and inspiring.


Scientists can arrange carbon atoms into intricate scaffolds to make a range of materials that display unusual properties.

Chemists can bind together carbon atoms to form interesting structures that resemble balls, rings, tubes or sheets. The different structures, called allotropes, display interesting properties. This makes it possible for scientists to design materials for a wide variety of applications.

While some allotropes have been easy to make and study, working with cyclo[n]carbons has proved to be a difficult challenge since the 1980s.

Recent developments in...

About the Author

Sabine Maier is a professor of physics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, where she leads a research team that focuses on using scanning probe microscopy to study materials at the molecular level.

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