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Nat Chem. 2010 Feb;2(2):117-24. doi: 10.1038/nchem.482. Epub 2010 Jan 10.

Analysis of the reactivity and selectivity of fullerene dimerization reactions at the atomic level.

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Nanotube Research Centre, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba 305-8565 Japan.


High-resolution transmission electron microscopy has proved useful for its ability to provide time-resolved images of small molecules and their movements. One of the next challenges in this area is to visualize chemical reactions by monitoring time-dependent changes in the atomic positions of reacting molecules. Such images may provide information that is not available with other experimental methods. Here we report a study on bimolecular reactions of fullerene and metallofullerene molecules inside carbon nanotubes as a function of electron dose. Images of how the fullerenes move during the dimerization process reveal the specific orientations in which two molecules interact, as well as how bond reorganization occurs after their initial contact. Studies on the concentration, specimen temperature, effect of catalyst and accelerating voltage indicate that the reactions can be imaged under a variety of conditions.


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