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The discovery of the extraterrestrial origin of the enclosed helium has far-reaching implications for thehistory of the earth. For example, the existence of the carrier phase of fullerenes suggests that “fullerenes, volatiles, andperhaps other organic compounds were being exogenously delivered to the early Earth and other planets throughout time.”iiBecker,Poreda, and Bunch, 2982. With more research, it might even be possible to determine whether meteorite impacts on earth could havetriggered global changes or even brought carbon and gases to earth that allowed for the development of life!


Why does it matter? Why should anyone care? These buckyballs are giving scientists information about allotropesof carbon never before conceived. More importantly, these buckyballs might allow engineers and doctors do what was neverbefore possible. These are some of the applications for buckyballs currently in research.

Medical uses for buckyballs

Drug treatments

Buckyballs are now being considered for uses in the field of medicine, both as diagnostic tools and drug candidates. SimonFriedman, a researcher at the University of Kansas, began experimenting with buckyballs as possible drug treatments in 1991.Because buckyballs have a rigid structure (unlike benzene rings, often used for similar purposes), researchers are able to attachother molecules to it in specific configurations to create precise interactions with a target molecule. For example, Friedman hascreated a protease inhibitor that attaches to the active site of HIV 50 times better than other molecules. C Sixty, a Toronto basedcompany that specializes in medical uses of fullerenes, plans to test on humans two new fullerene-based drugs for Lou Gehrig’sdisease and HIV in the near future.

Gadolinium carriers

Another medical use for buckyballs is taking place in the field of diagnostics. Buckyballs unique cage-likestructure might allow it to take the place of other molecules in shuttling toxic metal substances through the human body during MRIscans. Usually, the metal gadolinium is attached to another molecule and sent into the body to provide contrast on the MRIscans, but unfortunately these molecules are excreted from thesystem quickly to reduce the chance of toxic poisoning in the subject. Lon Wilson of Rice University and researchers at TDAResearch have encased gadolinium inside buckyballs, where they cannot do harm to the patient, allowing them to remain inside thebody longer, but still appear in MRI’s. So far this application has been successfully tested in one rat. Wilson and others have begunto develop even more applications for the tiny little cages that could one day help revolutionizemedicine.

Engineering Uses

Nano stm

The Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) is one of the foremost tools in microscopy today; boasting the ability to to map out the topology of material surfaces at atomic resolution (i.e. on the order of 0.2 nanometers). The STM achieves this feat by bringing a needle point, functioning as a probe, within just several nanometers of a sample's surface. At these minute scales, even small disturbances can cause the tip to crach into the sample and deform itself. A possible solution to this problem would be the replacement of the standard needle point with a buckyball. As discussed previously, fullerenes bear amazing resilience due to their spherical geometry, and would resist distortions from such collisions.

Buckyballs in circuits

European scientists are aiming to use buckyballs in circuit. So far, they have been able to attach asingle fullerene to a copper surface, and then, through a process called shrink wrapping, fitted its center with a metal ion and madeit smaller to increases electric conductivity by a hundred times.


Because of their shapes, they could be used equivalently to ball bearings, and thus allow surfaces to roll overeach other, making the fullerenes equivalently lubricants


It has been shown that fitting a potassium ion in the buckyball causes it to become superconductive. Ways toexploit this are in the research stages.


Attaching metals onto the surface of fullerenes offers the possibility for buckyballs to becomecatalysts.


As we can see, we have come along way since that fateful year of 1985. Strides have been made. We have seen therise of nanotubes and the new science of Nanotechnology. We are still studying the chemical and physical properties of buckyballsand continue to be amazed. They have already proved to us why they are important; their possible uses in medicine and in engineeringare broad and profound, while the health risks they posed have yet to be fully analyzed. Only time will tell whether they will meet,or exceed our expectations as we unfold this brave new world.


Nobelprize.org: http://nobelprize.org/chemistry/laureates/1996/press.html






Gorman, Jessica. Buckymedicine: Coming soon to a pharmacy near you?. Science News Online: July 13, 2002, vol.162, no. 2. http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20020713/bob10.asp

Becker, Poreda, and Bunch. Extraterrestrial Helium Trapped in Fullerenes in the Sudbury Impact Structure.Science, Vol 272, Issue 5259, 249-252 , 12 April 1996.

Personal author: Aldersey-Williams, Hugh. Title: The most beautiful molecule : an adventure in chemistry/ Hugh Aldersey-Williams. Publication info: London : Aurum Press, 1995.Personal author: Baggott, J. E. Title: Perfect symmetry : the accidental discovery ofBuckminsterfullerene / Jim Baggott. Publication info: Oxford [England]; New York : Oxford University Press, 1994.

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Nanotechnology: content and context. OpenStax CNX. May 09, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10418/1.1
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