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An introduction to Buckminsterfullerenes: Their history and discovery, their unique chemical and physical properties, methods in fullerene production, and the many possible uses of "buckyballs" that may be seen in the near future.
This module was developed as part of a Rice University Class called " Nanotechnology: Content and Context " initially funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. EEC-0407237. It was conceived, researched, written and edited by students in the Fall 2005 version of the class, and reviewed by participating professors.

“This year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry has implications for all the natural sciences. The seeds of thediscovery were sowed by a desire to understand the behavior of carbon in red giant stars and interstellar gas clouds. Thediscovery of fullerenes has expanded our knowledge and changed our thinking in chemistry and physics. It has given us new hypotheseson the occurrence of carbon in the universe. It has also led us to discover small quantities of fullerenes in geological formations.Fullerenes are probably present in much larger amounts on earth than previously believed. It has been shown that most sooty flamescontain small quantities of fullerenes. Think of this the next time you light a candle!”

-From the presentation speech for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1996


In 1996, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the most prestigiousaward in the world for chemists, to Richard Smalley, Robert Curl, and Harold Kroto for their discovery of fullerenes. They discoveredfullerenes (also called buckyballs) in 1985, but the special properties of the buckyballs took a few years to prove andcategorize. Although by 1996 no practical applications of buckyballs had been produced, scientists appreciated the directionthis discovery based in organic chemistry had led scientific research, as well as its specific contributions to various otherfields. The accidental discovery of fullerenes also emphasizes the benefits and unexpected results which can arise when scientistswith different backgrounds and research aims collaborate in the laboratory.

What are buckyballs?

Before going into detail about the actual buckyball, we should discuss the element that makes its structurepossible, carbon. Carbon is the sixth element on the periodic table, and has been found to be at least a partial constituent inover 90 per cent of all chemicals known to man. Indeed, its electron-bonding properties grant it a versatility specific tocarbon, allowing it to be so widely functionalized, and more importantly, the reason for life on Earth. Anything that is livingis necessarily chemically based on Carbon atoms, and for this reason, substances containing carbon are called organic compounds,and the study of them is called organic chemistry.

Though carbon is involved in chemistry with all sorts of other elements and compounds, it can also exist inpure carbon states such as graphite and diamond. Graphite and diamond are two different allotropes of carbon. An allotrope is aspecific physical arrangement of atoms of an element. So although diamond and graphite are both pure carbon, because the crystallinestructure of each is significantly different, their chemical and physical properties (as well as value) are very different.

Questions & Answers

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.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply

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