Scientists have created an iron-based ring structure that could be used for new applications in electronics and sensing.
Ferrocene is a molecule that was discovered in the 1950s. It is made up of two rings of hydrogen and carbon bound either side of an iron atom. This and other ‘sandwich compounds’ have unique properties that have led to their widespread use as industrial catalysts, pharmaceuticals, and fuel additives.
Whilst they are structurally quite simple, to the eye of a chemist they appear rather beautiful.
– Dr Michael Inkpen
Now, a team of researchers from Imperial College London and the Universität Konstanz in Germany have created a series of rings containing ferrocene molecules directly linked together for the first time – forming a molecular ‘daisy chain’. The cyclic structures have unique electrical properties that could be used in new electronics and sensing devices.
When the team investigated the way electrical charge is handled by the rings, they discovered that interactions between individual ferrocene units resulted in an unusual charging behaviour of the entire ring. The research was funded by The Leverhulme Trust and is published today in Nature Chemistry.
Adjusting the charge on one ferrocene unit causes the other units in the ring to re-arrange their charges without actually transferring the charge itself. This would avoid heating the molecules as the charge passes through, as happens with conventional electronics.