Simple metallofullerenes consist of a fullerene cage, typically C
80, with one or two metal atoms trapped inside. Recently, research has produced metallofullerenes that enclose small clusters of atoms, such as Sc
80, and Sc
80. The '@' symbol in the formula indicates that the atom(s) are encapsulated inside the cage, rather than being chemically bonded to it.
Fullerenes in a variety of sizes have been found to encapsulate metal atoms in this way.
One particular metallofullerene with gadolinium at its core is up to 40 times better as a contrast agent in magnetic resonance imaging scans for diagnostic imaging. Metallofullerenes may also provide ways to carry therapeutic radioactive ions to cancerous tissue.
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- Zhang, J.; Bowles, F. L.; Bearden, D. W.; Ray, W. K.; Fuhrer, T.; Ye, Y.; Dixon, C.; Harich, K.; Helm, R. F.; Olmstead, M. M.; Balch, A. L.; Dorn, H. C. (2013). "A missing link in the transformation from asymmetric to symmetric metallofullerene cages implies a top-down fullerene formation mechanism". Nature Chemistry. 5 (10): 880–885. doi:10.1038/nchem.1748. PMID 24056346.
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