Are octahedral clusters missing on the carbon energy landscape?†
We report a new class of carbon nanostructures at a lower sub-nano end of the size scale with a surprising stability, as compared to the well-known carbon fullerenes. The octahedral carbon clusters contain tetragonal rings, which, in spite of a common belief, prove to be an energy efficient means of plying graphene sheets to make three-dimensional spheroid shapes, similar to fullerenes. The two families of structures are shown to be competitive at small sizes (∼20 atoms) at room temperature, and for higher temperatures, at both small and large sizes (>200 atoms). Our calculations demonstrate that both vibrational and electronic spectra of these cluster families are similar, which thus might cloud their experimental identification. However, there is a sufficiently strong shift in vibrational frequencies below 160 and in the range of 600–800 cm−1, which should help to identify different types of carbon clusters experimentally. We propose octahedral clusters and other structures containing tetragonal rings as viable structural elements and building units in inorganic chemistry and materials science of carbon along with fullerenes.
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