It takes a scanning tunneling microscope to view this crystal made of billions of 10–21-carat diamondlike molecules. These newly discovered, naturally occurring molecules are called cyclohexamantane. For decades, researchers have synthesized so-called diamondoids with simpler molecular structures and have even used one of these, adamantane, to make medicines. Simple diamondoids are also found in petroleum, where they can form well-clogging sediments. While studying this problem several years ago, Jeremy E.P. Dahl, a geologist at Stanford University and ChevronTexaco in Richmond, Calif., and his colleagues speculated that oil might contain more-complex diamondoids. They were right. They recently found several complex diamondoids in oil, and in the May 9 Angewandte Chemie International Edition, they describe the isolation and characterization of cyclohexamantane.
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