Chemically adjusting plasma temperature, energy, and reactivity (CAPTEAR) method using NOx and combustion for selective synthesis of SC3N@C-80 metallic nitride fullerenes

Steven Stevenson, University of Southern Mississippi
M. Corey Thompson, University of Southern Mississippi
H. Louie Coumbe, University of Southern Mississippi
Mary A. Mackey, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

Goals are (1) to selectively synthesize metallic nitride fullerenes (MNFs) in lieu of empty-cage fullerenes (e.g., C-60, C-70) without compromising MNF yield and (2) to test our hypothesis that MNFs possess a different set of optimal formation parameters than empty-cage fullerenes. In this work, we introduce a novel approach for the selective synthesis of metallic nitride fullerenes. This new method is "Chemically Adjusting Plasma Temperature, Energy, and Reactivity" (CAPTEAR). The CAPTEAR approach with copper nitrate hydrate uses NOx vapor from NOx generating solid reagents, air, and combustion to "tune" the temperature, energy, and reactivity of the plasma environment. The extent of temperature, energy, and reactive environment is stoichiometrically varied until optimal conditions for selective MNF synthesis are achieved. Analysis of soot extracts indicate that percentages of C-60 and Sc3N@C-80 are inversely related, whereas the percentages of C-70 and higher empty-cage C-2n fullerenes are largely unaffected. Hence, there may be a "competitive link" in the formation and mechanism of C60 and Sc3N@C-80. Using this CAPTEAR method, purified MNFs (96% SC3N@C-80, 12 mg) have been obtained in soot extracts without a significant penalty in milligram yield when compared to control soot extracts (4% Sc3N@C-80, 13 Mg of Sc3N@C-80). The CAPTEAR process with Cu(NO3)(2).2.5H(2)O uses an exothermic nitrate moiety to suppress empty-cage fullerene formation, whereas Cu functions as a catalyst additive to offset the reactive plasma environment and boost the SC3N@C-80 MNF production.