Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


30 years after C60: Fullerene Chemistry with Silicon


Goethe University chemists have managed to synthesise a compound featuring an Si20 dodecahedron. The Platonic solid, which was published in the "Angewandte Chemie" journal, is not just aesthetically pleasing, it also opens up new perspectives for the semiconductor industry.

The discovery of the soccer ball-shaped C60 molecule in 1985 was a milestone for the development of nanotechnology. In parallel with the fast-blooming field of research into carbon fullerenes, researchers have spent a long time trying in vain to create structurally similar silicon cages.



Goethe University chemists have now managed to synthesise a compound featuring an Si20 dodecahedron. The Platonic solid, which was published in the "Angewandte Chemie" journal, is not just aesthetically pleasing, it also opens up new perspectives for the semiconductor industry.

The Si20 dodecahedron is roughly as large as the C60 molecule. However, there are some crucial differences between the types of bonding: All of the carbon atoms in C60 have a coordination number of three and form double bonds. In the silicon dodecahedron, in contrast, all atoms have a coordination number of four and are connected through single bonds, so that the molecule is also related to dodecahedrane (C20H20).

"In its day, dodecahedrane was viewed as the 'Mount Everest' of organic chemistry, because it initially could only be synthesized through a 23- step sequence. In contrast, our Si20 cage can be created in one step starting from Si2 building blocks," explains Prof. Matthias Wagner of the Goethe University Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry.

The Si20 hollow bodies, which have been isolated by his PhD student, Jan Tillmann, are always filled with a chloride ion. The Frankfurt chemists therefore suppose that the cage forms itself around the anion, which thus has a structure-determining effect. On its surface, the cluster carries eight chlorine atoms and twelve Cl3Si groups.

These have highly symmetric arrangements in space, which is why the molecule is particularly beautiful. Quantum chemical calculations carried out by Professor Max C. Holthausen's research group at Goethe University show that the substitution pattern that was observed experimentally indeed produces a pronounced stabilisation of the Si20 structure.

In future, Tillmann and Wagner are planning to use the surface-bound Cl3Si anchor groups to produce three dimensional nanonetworks out of Si20 units. The researchers are particularly interested in the application potential of this new compound:

"Spatially strictly limited silicon nanoparticles display fundamentally different properties to conventional silicon wafers," explains Matthias Wagner. The long strived-for access to siladodecahedrane thus opens up the possibility of studying the fundamental electronic properties of cage-like Si nanoparticles compared to crystalline semiconductor silicon.

J. Tillmann et al: One-Step Synthesis of a [20]Silafullerane with an Endohedral Chloride
Ion, in: Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, DOI: 10.1002/anie.201412050

Download an image from:

Information: Prof. Matthias Wagner, Institute for Anorganic and Analytic Chemistry, Campus Riedberg, phone: +49(069)798-29156, email:

Goethe University is a research-oriented university in the European financial centre Frankfurt Founded in 1914 with purely private funds by liberally-oriented Frankfurt citizens, it is dedicated to research and education under the motto "Science for Society" and to this day continues to function as a "citizens’ university". Many of the early benefactors were Jewish. Over the past 100 years, Goethe University has done pioneering work in the social and sociological sciences, chemistry, quantum physics, brain research and labour law. It gained a unique level of autonomy on 1 January 2008 by returning to its historic roots as a privately funded university. Today, it is among the top ten in external funding and among the top three largest universities in Germany, with three clusters of excellence in medicine, life sciences and the humanities.

Publisher The President of Goethe University, Marketing and Communications Department, 60629 Frankfurt am Main
Editor: Dr. Anke Sauter, Science Editor, International Communication, Tel: +49(0)69 798-12498, Fax +49(0)69 798-761 12531,

Dr. Anke Sauter | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Here comes the long-sought-after iron-munching microbe
25.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques
25.10.2016 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

First-time reconstruction of infectious bat influenza viruses

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Novel method to benchmark and improve the performance of protein measumeasurement techniques

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Amazon rain helps make more rain

25.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>