Recent progress in the chemistry of endohedral metallofullerenes
Putting metal atoms or metallic clusters into fullerenes has generated a new class of hybrid molecules, defined as endohedral metallofullerenes (EMFs), possessing novel structures and fascinating properties which are different from those of empty fullerenes. In particular, it has been revealed that the chemical properties of the cage carbons of EMFs depend strongly on the nature of the internal metallic species, such as their electronic configuration, location and even motion. Since the first report describing the successful derivatization of La@C82 in 1995, great efforts have been devoted to the chemical modification of EMFs during the last two decades. Although earlier studies mainly focused on readily available species such as M@C82, M2@C80 and M3N@C80 and the related results have been systematically summarized in our previous review paper (Chem. Commun., 2011, 47, 5942–5957), recent concerns about some relatively rare EMFs have developed rapidly. Moreover, taking advantage of single crystal X-ray crystallography, we can now clearly demonstrate the mutual influences between the internal metallic species and the chemical behaviours of the surrounding cage carbons, and the addends as well. In this article, we present recent achievements in the chemical functionalization of EMFs, which were mainly published during the last four years. For consistency, we will still pay special attention to the role that the metals play in controlling the properties of the whole EMF molecules. In this review, however, we will not only focus on concrete experimental results such as X-ray crystallographic and NMR spectroscopic data but will also include computational studies which have indeed enhanced our understanding of the chemical properties of EMFs. Applicable materials based on EMFs are also mentioned but are not discussed in detail.