Ilija Rasovic - UK

Ilija graduated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford in 2014 with an MEng in Materials Science, before embarking upon a DPhil in Professor Kyriakos Porfyrakis' Carbon Nanomaterials Laboratory in the same department. His multidisciplinary research has two foci: synthesising water-soluble fullerene derivatives for a slew of medical applications, and also incorporating fullerenes into functional molecular machines. Combining the two, he hopes to pave a way to creating nanomedicines of the future.

Ilija has presented his EPSRC-funded work at the international NanoteC conference, and won the IOM3 Literature Review Prize in 2016 with his review on water-soluble fullerenes for medical applications. His knowledge of fullerene chemistry has also allowed him to publish in the field of organic electronics. Before being taken by fullerenes, he spent some time running virtual crash tests at Jaguar Land Rover, assessing failure modes of critical components.

Away from the lab, Ilija is an active STEM ambassador, regularly giving outreach talks to encourage students to apply for study at Oxford, and to sow interest in Materials Science. He tutors 1st and 2nd year Materials Science undergraduates in all their polymers courses, and also marks the Physics Aptitude Tests for prospective applicants. In his spare time, Ilija loses himself either playing music or running around on a football pitch.

Making the world's most expensive material

Diamond, tritium, time... All often said to be the most valuable things in this world. In Oxford, we have created and sold the world's most expensive material. Designer Carbon Materials produces N@C60, a type of endohedral fullerene, which is a football-shaped carbon cage encapsulating a nitrogen atom. I will introduce what the fullerenes are and how we make this unique family of materials, before specifically discussing the synthesis of the beautiful N@C60 molecule and its lengthy purification procedure.

The unprecedented ability to isolate atomic nitrogen at room temperature in this way holds great promise for technological applications of the future, particularly in quantum computing and the production of miniature atomic clocks. If we can overcome the major hurdle of lowering the price of this remarkable material, then its widespread use in these applications will herald the onset of a technological revolution.


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