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First IR spectrum protonated C70 reported

Date of news: 23 March 2021

Sir Harry Kroto, astronomer and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of C60, predicted 30 years ago that protonated fullerenes are among the most abundant fullerene derivatives in interstellar environments. Julianna Palotás and her coworkers at the FELIX Laboratory have now recorded the first IR spectrum of C70H+. This spectral signature may guide astronomers in the search for these species, to corroborate Kroto’s predictions.

In 2019, we published the first IR spectrum of C60H+ in Nature Astronomy. All 60 carbon atoms in C60 are equivalent, so that there exists only one isomer of C60H+ (excluding protonation on the inside of the cage as indicated by the experimental spectrum). In contrast, the proton in C70H+ may be located on one of five distinct carbon atoms. The present experimental IR spectrum in combination with DFT computed spectra for the five protonation isomers reveals unambiguously which of these carbon atoms carries the proton (see figure).


The Infrared Spectrum of Protonated C70Julianna Palotás, Jonathan Martens, Giel Berden, Jos Oomens, The Astrophysical Journal Letters (2021), volume 909, article L17. (open access, free download of pdf)