The most expensive substance in the world: 140 million costs per gram

Gold and diamonds are not close to this material Oxford scientists from the Designer Carbon Materials company developed in 2015

by Sededin Dedovic
The most expensive substance in the world: 140 million costs per gram
© Leon Neal / Getty Images

Have you ever thought about what is the most expensive material in the world? Gold, diamonds or maybe some luxury foods like white truffles and caviar? In fact, the palm of the championship belongs to a powder called endohedral fullerene based on nitrogen atoms, the price of which reaches an incredible 140 million dollars per gram.

This fascinating material not only holds the record for the most expensive, but also promises revolutionary improvements in the technology we use every day. In 2015, scientists at the Oxford company Designer Carbon Materials made a significant breakthrough by developing nitrogen-based endohedral fullylenes.

This material has the potential to be used in making incredibly precise atomic clocks, devices that are currently the size of an entire room! More precise atomic clocks would have numerous practical applications. For example, they are a key component of the GPS system, so their miniaturization would significantly improve navigation accuracy.

Imagine driverless cars that use ultra-precise atomic clocks for navigation! This would enable safe autonomous driving even through tunnels and locations with a weak GPS signal. What exactly makes endohedral fullylenes so special? It can be said that they are miniature cages formed by 60 carbon atoms, and inside that cage is a nitrogen atom.

The structure of the carbon atoms in this cage resembles the seams of a soccer ball, which is why endohedral fullerenes are nicknamed "bucky balls." Interestingly, atoms confined within these cages show significantly improved physical and electronic properties compared to "free" atoms.

Research and development of endohedral fullerenes was not a cheap process. In 2013, the University of Oxford, together with its partners, received significant financial support of £1.5 million to develop more efficient production methods to increase the amount of endohedral fullerenes to the gram level.

This tells us about the enormous potential that scientists see in this material. However, the story of endohedral fullerenes does not end with atomic clocks. Research points to their possible application in the development of new drugs and medical treatments, reinforced magnets, high-efficiency solar cells.

Research into endohedral fullerenes is still at an early stage, but the potential of this material is enormous. From incredibly precise atomic clocks to targeted medicine and an energy revolution, endohedral fullerenes are opening the door to new technological possibilities that could change our world.