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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 14 Issue 5 (2009) pp 221-224

Origami Construction of 3D Models for Fullerenes, Carbon Nanotubes and Associated Structures

Jaime García, Rodrigo Esparza, and Ramiro Pérez*

Instituto de Ciencias Físicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México,P. O. Box 48-3, 62210, Cuernavaca Mor., MEXICO, ramiro@fis.unam.mx
Received August 5, 2008. Accepted September 2, 2009

Published online: 31 December 2009

Abstract. Papiroflexy is a paper folding technique which is widely used to make paper figures. We have explored this technique to make relatively complex molecules such as the fullerenes. One of the main advantages of these paper models is that based in a primary building block we can construct the whole molecule, during the construction process, the degrees of freedom for the primary module positions are restricted and therefore this gives the particular orientation of the final obtained paper molecule. Recent advances in the study of the nanomaterials have originated the need for providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to construct and visualize all kind of nanostructures. Thus, the origami construction technique, allows visualize and appreciate the different topological properties of such nanostructures. In this paper, the construction of 3D models for graphitic nanostructures has been carried out using origami modules. The elemental module represents the carbon atom and the three bonds shared with neighbors atoms. 3D modules for the C60 and C240 fullerenes have been constructed. Both structures have 12 pentagonal forms and the molecule grows with the addition of rings of hexagonal forms. Depending of the number of added rings the fullerene ends with a spherical shape or with a facetted structure. Nanotubes have also been constructed and based on the spatial arrangements of the hexagonal forms, different type of nanotubes are obtained such as: zigzag, armchair and chiral. Other solids nanostructures were visualized by this technique, like decahedrons and icosahedrons. Some simple simulations based on Molecular Dynamics were carried out to know the energies of some of the structural models.

Key Words: In the Classroom; organic chemistry; inorganic chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: ramiro@fis.unam.mx)

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Issue date: Dec, 31, 2009

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