Research Fellows Directory
Professor Andrei Khlobystov
University of Nottingham
All living creatures are based on carbon. The diversity of life shows the great structural versatility of carbon as a chemical element. In my research I utilise carbon as a construction material for nano-sized vesicles (fullerenes) and tubes (nanotubes). Despite their ultra-small size (nanotube, for example, is 80,000 times thinner than a human hair), these carbon nanostructures are very strong mechanically and possess a whole range of useful physical properties.
I utilise the internal void of nanotubes and fullerenes to store atoms and molecules. For example, erbium (Er) atoms that can interact with light and are already used for telecommunications have been incarcerated within the carbon cages of fullerenes (forming so-called “endohedral fullerenes”). The exterior of the carbon cages was modified to make them stick onto metallic surfaces. This technique allowed us to assemble very large 2D arrays of these fullerenes, each bearing three Er atoms inside. This opens new avenues for incorporation of these unique optically active molecules into nano-electronic functional devices.
Carbon nanotubes are used as extremely small test tubes in my research. In the past I showed that we can put many different types of molecules into nanotubes that can line up along the nanotube axis and form interesting structures that do not exist outside nanotubes. Recently, using state of the art electron microscopy I demonstrated that we can initiate and to watch a chemical reaction inside nanotube in real time at the atomic scale! For the first time we were able to watch individual atoms within the molecules colliding with each other and forming new molecules (you may like to watch the movie on www.nottingham.ac.uk/nanocarbon/TEM ). Nanotubes have been utilised as ultra-small chemical reactors fulfilling a dream of many chemists to monitor atoms in real space as they react with each other.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)