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Robert Curl, Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley shared the 1996 Noble Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of a new carbon molecule structure. Fullerenes, as these structures are called, are spheres made up of hexagons and pentagons, something like a soccer ball. Many believed that only carbon could form such structures, but in 1992 the Weizmann Institute's Prof. Reshef Tenne and his co-workers discovered one that is inorganic – it contains no carbon. Inorganic fullerenes have already proven themselves in industry, where adding them to lubricants or surface coatings greatly improves the performance of machinery. But many questions remain: What is the smallest stable, inorganic fullerene-type molecule one can make? How will its structure affect such properties as electrical conductivity? Tenne's research student Maya Bar Sadan is tackling these questions in his lab in the Institute's Materials and Interfaces Department (in the Faculty of Chemistry).
"I became interested in science when I lost my first tooth. The present I received was a book on building airplanes and in-flight refueling."
Bar Sadan created molecules of molybdenum disulfide with an octahedronical (eight-sided) structure. Together with German colleagues, she is investigating their properties with a high resolution transmission electron microscope. They have already found that the molecules' construction enables them to change from a semiconductor to a metal-like state.
Maya is the mother of a seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old twins. Their favorite family outing is a long hike in the desert. "We have quiet there, and we can truly listen to each other."
"I chose to study at the Weizmann Institute Graduate School because I wanted to learn in a place that encouraged collaboration among researchers in different fields."
Maya Bar Sadan’s research in the lab of Prof. Reshef Tenne is supported by the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Nanoscale Science. Prof. Tenne is the incumbent of the Drake Family Professorial Chair in Nanotechnology.