Water normally exists in a hydrogen-bonded environment, which tends to dominate any properties scientists wish to isolate and examine. Now scientists have managed to isolate a single molecule of H2O without any hydrogen bonds. They isolated bulk quantities of such a molecule by first synthesizing an open-cage C60 derivative whose opening can be enlarged in situ at 120°C that quantitatively encapsulated one water molecule under the high-pressure conditions. A relatively simple method was then employed to close the cage and encapsulate water free from any hydrogen bonds or other influencing links.
Water remains a fascinating molecule to scientists and is still studied around the world for its interesting bulk properties such as its high boiling and melting points, its high dielectric constant and its ability to act as both an acid and a base.
Unitil now a single water molecule with no strong hydrogen bonding or bonds to other organic molecules has rarely been isolated. Scientists at the University of Kyoto [Kurotobi and Murata, Science, (2011), 333, 613] have now managed to isolate and characterise a single molecule encapsulated in fullerene C60 cage. The structure of H2O@C60 was determined by single-crystal x-ray analysis, along with its physical and spectroscopic properties.