If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.



A Fast Flip For Hydrogen Spins

Nuclei of fullerene-caged hydrogen molecules respond quickly to irradiation

by Jyllian Kemsley
September 12, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 37

H2 can change from triplet to singlet states through irradiation.
H2 can change from triplet to singlet states through irradiation
H2 can change from triplet to singlet states through irradiation.

Irradiating H2 encaged in a C70 fullerene (H2@C70) quickly converts H2 molecules from the nuclear-spin-aligned triplet state to the spin-paired singlet state, reports a research group led by Columbia University chemistry professor Nicholas J. Turro (J. Am. Chem. Soc., DOI: 10.1021/ja206383n). Although the same effect can be achieved by allowing H2 to equilibrate thermally, such equilibration can take months, hampering investigations into spin control of chemical reactions. Turro and colleagues chilled toluene solutions of H2@C70 to various temperatures, irradiated the frozen solutions with a xenon arc lamp for several hours, and used NMR spectroscopy to track the amount of triplet ortho-H2. Irradiating the samples produces an electronically excited state in the fullerene shells that induces a spin flip in the hydrogen nuclei within. That process converts ortho-H2 to singlet para-H2, achieving the same amounts of para-H2 as the radiation-free equilibration, but in much less time. The reverse conversion—para-H2 to ortho-H2—also works at low temperatures. Similar experiments with H2@C60 failed, however, likely because the C60 excited state decays too quickly, the authors say.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.