H2O in a Desert of Carbon Atoms

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 531-532
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209388

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Water is a crucial component of our world (1). The properties of water that allow waves to wash upon our sandy beaches are dependent upon the interactions between multiple water molecules (2). These interactions involve water's dipole moment and its ability to weakly associate with neighboring molecules through hydrogen bonding. In order to understand these interactions at the fundamental level, chemists have been finding routes to isolate and probe small, well-defined clusters of water molecules. On page 613 of this issue, Kurotobi and Murata report the formation of a molecular container compound that can isolate an individual water molecule and trap it inside a carbon cage of the most abundant fullerene, C60 (3). That molecular container compound is H2O@C60 (see the figure).