Self-destructive molecule lives longer in prison

Milgrom, Lionel
September 1991
New Scientist;9/21/91, Vol. 131 Issue 1787, p25
The article reports on the formation of the highly unstable molecule cyclobutadiene inside another molecule. Cyclobutadiene is a hydrocarbon that contains a square of four carbon atoms, each of which is attached to a hydrogen atom. Researcher Donald Cram and his team at the University of California, Los Angeles, prepared the compound inside another molecule, which acts as a kind of prison, preventing cyclobutadiene from escaping while keeping out other molecules that might react chemically with it. Some molecules are inherently unstable. These are the wild molecules like cyclobutadiene that theoretical chemists say are so unstable that they will instantly fall apart or react.


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