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April 24th, 2007
Five decades ago, Fred Hawthorne, professor of radiology and director of the International Institute for Nano and Molecular Medicine at MU, discovered an extremely stable molecule consisting of 12 boron atoms and 12 hydrogen atoms. Known as "boron cages," these molecules were difficult to change or manipulate, and sat dormant in Hawthorne's laboratory for many years.
Recently, Hawthorne's scientific team found a way to modify these cages, resulting in a large, new family of nano-sized compounds. In their study, which was published this month, Hawthorne, and Mark Lee, assistant professor at the institute and first author of the study, found that attaching different compounds to the cages gave them the properties of many different metals.
"Since the range of properties for these pseudo-metals is quite large, they might be referred to as 'psuedo-elements belonging to a completely new pseudo-periodic table,'" Lee said.
Potential applications of this discovery are abundant, especially in medicine.
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