Researchers at IBM have managed to synthesize an unusual triangular molecule that has eluded them for 70 years.
When atoms of a substance come close to form a molecule, their electrons create strong bonds with each other that hold them together. Special molecules, the so-called free radicals, have unpaired electrons in their composition, which makes them extremely active - they tend to complete their electronic bonds. However, in rare cases, molecules with an even number of electrons can behave like free radicals, since the very arrangement of their atoms prevents the formation of the full number of bonds between electrons.
In 1950, Czech chemist Eric Clare predicted that a triangular hydrocarbon made up of six merged benzene rings would have an even number of atoms and electrons - but two free electrons would remain in it due to the very geometry of such a molecule.
Claire tried to synthesize such a hydrocarbon - dubbed triangulene - but failed. The molecule was so active that it immediately formed bonds with other triangulenes.
And now scientists have managed to achieve the result predicted by Claire. First of all, they created a large triangulene precursor with a couple of extra hydrogen atoms. Then, they subjected it to electron bombardment, which managed to split off a couple of atoms, eventually leaving the triangulen itself.
The unique electronic characteristics of this unusual molecule should give triangulene magnetic properties and make it an unusually valuable material for the needs of quantum electronics.