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Petrukhina Awarded NSF Grant to Study Buckybowls

(April 7, 2006)

Marina Petrukhina

Marina Petrukhina

Marina A. Petrukhina of the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences has been awarded a National Science Foundation Career Award for her work with buckybowls. The award from the Inorganic, Bioinorganic, and Organometallic Chemistry Program totals $540,000 over five years (2006-2011).

According to the article "Buckybowls by the Bucketful," from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, buckyballs are "curious hollow spheres formed by 60 atoms of carbon, namely C60."

The article continues, "Buckyballs have intrigued chemists since the uniquely structured molecules were first discovered in 1985. The carbon atoms align to form a hollow structure similar to the pattern of panels found on a soccer ball. They get their name from architect/engineer/philosopher Buckminster 'Bucky' Fuller, who pioneered the concept of geodesic domes."

The discovery of buckyballs sparked a great interest in open geodesic polyaromatic hydrocarbons that exhibit bowl shapes and map onto the surface of C60. This family has commonly been referred to as "buckybowls." Unlike C60, buckybowls have become available for studying only in the past few years and that not only gave the chemical community an exciting new class of molecules, but also made the study of their reactivity possible. Systematic investigation of properties of buckybowls is a new area of research that combines efforts of professors from several theoretical and synthetic groups, including Petrukhina, an assistant professor in inorganic and materials chemistry, who received her Ph.D. and M.S. from Moscow State University.

She will use the NSF Career Award to "explore the reactivity and coordination limits of this new class of bowl-shaped polyaromatic molecules, in which inside and outside carbon surfaces exhibit different properties. An original and effective gas phase deposition approach will be used in this program to control coordination properties of buckybowls and to unravel novel aspects of the reactivity of curved polyaromatic hydrocarbons in metal binding reactions."

According to the program abstract, "Systematic investigation of such polyarenes is a new area of research that should stimulate the use of curved carbon-rich molecules in materials synthesis. It should open new practical pathways for functionalization of unsaturated carbon surfaces and for controlled preparation of endo-complexes of buckyballs and nanotubes that are of great interest as reagents for electronic, optical, and biomedical applications."

Petrukhina noted, "In the course of the above research activities, a program will be created for training and educating young chemists who will combine expertise in syntheses, crystal growth, various characterization techniques, powder and single crystal diffraction with knowledge and understanding of current materials chemistry needs and challenges. This educational program should significantly enhance professional development of our students in preparation for their successful research and educational careers. It should also contribute to the efforts of the Department of Chemistry to strengthen the materials chemistry emphasis, to increase the numbers of science majors, and to provide students with a better learning environment at the University at Albany."


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