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Title: Crown ethers in graphene

Crown ethers, introduced by Pedersen1, are at their most basic level neutral rings constructed of oxygen atoms linked by two- or three-carbon chains. They have attracted special attention for their ability to selectively incorporate various atoms2 or molecules within the cavity formed by the ring3-6. This property has led to the use of crown ethers and their compounds in a wide range of chemical and biological applications7,8. However, crown ethers are typically highly flexible, frustrating efforts to rigidify them for many uses that demand higher binding affinity and selectivity9,10. In this Letter, we report atomic-resolution images of the same basic structures of the original crown ethers embedded in graphene. This arrangement constrains the crown ethers to be rigid and planar and thus uniquely suited for the many applications that crown ethers are known for. First-principles calculations show that the close similarity of the structures seen in graphene with those of crown ether molecules also extends to their selectivity towards specific metal cations depending on the ring size. Atoms (or molecules) incorporated within the crown ethers in graphene offer a simple environment that can be easily and systematically probed and modeled. Thus, we expect that this discovery will introduce a newmore » wave of investigations and applications of chemically functionalized graphene.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN (United States)
  3. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States