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Practical aspects of spintronics, and especially quantum information processing (QIP), are currently hindered because of the lack of suitable materials. The research project titled “Transition Metals in Carbon Nanostructures” has involved two different tasks, which are intended to solve existing problems producing a new class of hybrid metal-carbon nanomaterials with exploitable properties.
The first task of this project has focused on the organization of electron-spin and optically active endohedral fullerene molecules X@Cn (where X is an atom or cluster incarcerated in the fullerene, and n is a number of carbon atoms in the fullerene cage) on surfaces and the investigation of functional properties of the obtained nanoscale architectures. In this case, the fullerene cage serves as “nano-container” which facilitates the incorporation of individual endohedral atoms with interesting optical and magnetic properties within supramolecular architectures. However, fullerene cages tend to have relatively isotropic exteriors owing to their spherical shapes, and so precise control of their positions and orientations can be difficult to achieve. An attractive approach for solving this problem is through chemical functionalisation of fullerene cages. This would allow for control over the orientation of the molecules via well-defined chemical bonding or highly directional non-covalent interactions. Thus, endohedral fullerenes functionalised with an appropriate chemical group could be able to form spontaneous molecular monolayers on surfaces. This strategy has been the main research vector for the formation of 2D arrays of these molecules at the nanoscale.
There has been two central aims for the first task: i) Development of suitable methods for the controlled assembly of empty fullerenes on gold surfaces and ii) Transfer of the successful strategies utilised for empty fullerenes to magnetic and optically active endohedral fullerenes.

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