Fullerenes or Buckyballs
Scientists announce discovery of fullerenes, or “buckyballs,” the scientific achievement that gave birth to nanotechnology.
The discovery of fullerenes has implications for all the natural sciences. It has expanded knowledge of chemistry and physics. Fullerenes have been found in geological formations and in sooty flames. Possible future uses include in antibiotics and as armor. Research on fullerenes has resulted in the synthesis of a steadily increasing number of new compounds, already more than one thousand. The discovery of fullerenes also led to research in carbon nanotubes, the cylindrical cousins of buckyballs, and the development of new fields of advanced materials. Carbon nanotubes’ unique structural and bonding properties, whereby inner tubes in a multi-walled nanotube can slide within an outer tube, suggest uses in tiny motors and as ball bearings and lubricants. Twenty-five years after their discovery, fullerenes provide abundant research opportunities in pure chemistry, materials science, pharmaceutical chemistry, and nanotechnology.
The American Chemical Society designated the discovery of fullerenes by a team at Rice University, which led to the development of carbon nanotubes, opening up a whole new field in materials science, as a National Historic Chemical Landmark in a ceremony on October 11, 2010, in Houston, Texas.
Visit National Historic Chemical Landmarks to read more about fullerenes.
Excerpted with permission, National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program