A study by a team of researchers from UNL will be featured on the cover of the Aug. 14 issue of the Journal of Materials Chemistry C, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Xiao Cheng Zeng, Ameritas University professor of chemistry, and his group report a computer-aided nanomaterials design, coined as a carbon buckyball-vanadium nanopeapod.
Like diamond or graphite, a carbon nanopeapod is a hybrid form of carbon allotropes with the “pod” being a carbon nanotube and the “peas” being a line of fullerenes (such as buckyballs) trapped inside the nanotube. This novel form of carbon materials can possess intriguing magnetic properties with heating and irradiating, Zeng said.
The UNL team designed a carbon buckyball-metal nanopeapod where the “peas” are a chain of exohedral vanadium buckyballs. The incorporation of a transition-metal element (vanadium) within the carbon nanopeapod enables the nanomaterial to possess richer electronic and magnetic properties.
Contrary to an open-air nanowire structure, the enclosed vanadium-buckyball nanowire can exhibit exceptional thermal and chemical stability because of the protection by the wall of the host nanotube. This hybrid carbon-metal nanopeapod structure will stimulate future development of low-dimensional, carbon-metal nanomaterials unavailable in open air without the carbon protection, Zeng said.
The computer-aided design is based on state-of-the-art, first-principles calculations carried out in the supercomputer hardware belonging to the University of Nebraska’s Holland Computing Center.
The research team included two Chinese scientists with UNL backgrounds. Guiling Zhang, associate dean in the College of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Harbin University of Science and Technology, was a visiting scholar at UNL in 2012. Rulong Zhou, associate professor at Hefei University of Technology, was as postdoctoral fellow in Zeng’s lab from 2010 to 2012.