Martin Saunders

Yale University

Election Year: 1998
Primary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

Recently, we have incorporated atoms and small molecules into the cavities within the hollow fullerenes and investigated the properties of the products. We do this by heating fullerenes to high temperature under high pressure of the gases in question, or alternatively, by shooting in beams of energetic ions or neutral atoms. Introduction of 3He permits inspection of helium NMR spectra. The field is, in turn, a function of diamagnetic or paramagnetic shielding by the electrons. Helium shifts are very sensitive to the addition of groups on the outside of the fullerenes or the addition of electrons to form ions. We collaborate with many other groups in applying helium NMR for studying fullerene chemistry. Our work has led to the recent discovery that fullerenes found in nature contain helium with a ratio of 3He to 4He, suggesting their extraterrestrial origin. Additional research concerns a computer method called the stochastic search procedure for locating conformers (local minima on the energy surface) of flexible molecules. Most molecules are mixtures of these conformers in rapid equilibrium. Finding them and obtaining their thermodynamic properties is necessary in order to determine the composition of the equilibrium mixtures.

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