Organofullerenes in Water


Hiroyuki Isobe Department of Chemistry, University of Tokyo

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Fullerenes are entirely insoluble in water and by themselves do not show appreciable biological activity. However, suitable chemical modification allows the molecules to dissolve in aqueous solution to exhibit significant activity. In 1993, three papers reported simultaneously on the biological activities of fullerene carboxylic acids 1 and 2. Studies ensued afterward revealed various interesting biological activities of organofullerenes owing to their photoactivity, radical quenching activity, and hydrophobicity. The interests in biology stimulated the studies on the behavior of fullerenes in water and led to new discoveries on the formation of one- to three-dimensional supramolecular objects, including vesicle, rod, globule, membrane, and linear assemblies. Several fundamental properties of fullerenes form the background of such interest in fullerenes in water: extremely high hydrophobicity, high cohesive force between fullerene molecules, photoactivity, ability to accept and release electrons, and relatively high reactivity that allows structural modifications. This article highlights the behaviors of organofunctionalized fullerenes in water.