Category: 

What are Fullerenes?

A spherical fullerene is often said to look like a soccer ball.
The 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Professors Robert F. Curl, Jr., Richard E. Smalley, and Sir Harold W. Kroto for the discovery of fullerenes.
Article Details
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
New Delhi, India is the most polluted city in the world.  more...

July 23 ,  1967 :  The Detroit Riots, one of the worst riots in US history, started.  more...

Fullerenes are a form of carbon molecule that is neither graphite nor diamond. They consist of a spherical, ellipsoid, or cylindrical arrangement of dozens of carbon atoms. Fullerenes were named after Richard Buckminster Fuller, an architect known for the design of geodesic domes which resemble spherical fullerenes in appearance. A spherical fullerene looks like a soccer ball, and are often called "buckyballs," whereas cylindrical fullerenes are known as "buckytubes" or "nanotubes."

Fullerenes were discovered as an unexpected surprise during laser spectroscopy experiments at Rice University in September 1985. The 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Professors Robert F. Curl, Jr., Richard E. Smalley, and Sir Harold W. Kroto for their discovery. Fullerene molecules consist of 60, 70, or more carbon atoms, unlike diamond and graphite, the more familiar forms of carbon.

Fullerenes occur only in small amounts naturally, but several techniques for producing them in greater volumes have been suggested. The modern technique uses a benzene flame to produce fullerenes. Other techniques include the vaporization of graphite rods and catalytic chemical vapor deposition from ethanol vapor.

Ad

The fullerene family of carbon molecules possess a range of unique properties. A fullerene nanotube has tensile strength about 20 times that of high-strength steel alloys, and a density half that of aluminum. Carbon nanotubes demonstrate superconductive properties, and single nanotubes up to 4 centimeters in length have been synthesized. A range of companies exists to develop nanotubes for commercial applications, including computer memory, electronic wires, and materials science. One day nanotubes could be used to create futuristic computers not possible with conventional lithographic techniques.

Nanotubes have been a central focus in the buzz surrounding the emerging field of "nanotechnology." The association is sometimes misleading; when physicist Richard Feynman originally proposed building manufacturing systems that assemble products on the molecular level ("molecular nanotechnology"), he was talking about tiny, productive machine systems, not the creation of exotic nano-scale materials like fullerenes using macro-scale chemistry techniques. A tiny factory built entirely out of fullerenes would qualify as molecular nanotechnology, but fullerenes on their own do not. This is a critical distinction often overlooked by some academics, venture capitalists, and technologists who are fond of using the word "nanotechnology" as a tool to attract funding or attention.

Ad

Discuss this Article

anon342980
Post 18

It's superconductive, so it's great for use in power lines and we won't lose too much energy to resistance. It's stronger than steel but lighter than aluminum. It could mean a possibility of a new aero material, but all this is based on mass production, which we can't do. I'm actually surprised this arrangement is super strong. I guess sphere is the way to go.

anon270682
Post 17

Right now,how are fullerenes actually used in nano technology?

anon246361
Post 16

@Anon28534: Swcnt = single wall (tube).

Mwcnt = multi wool (tube(s) inside tube).

Dw = Double wall.

anon82239
Post 10

what are fullerenes used for?

anon74441
Post 9

what is the quantity of fullerene produced per year?

anon55358
Post 7

how did the discovery of buckminsterfullerene support the development of nanochemistry?

anon45026
Post 6

unexpected surprise? suggestion for the next post: "what is a pleonasm?"

anon44266
Post 5

it is too complex, or i have no idea on chemistry! or i don;t know what's the use of all these names :D or my english is not as perfect, since i am a foreigner, but thanks, anyway! i love upi site. i subscribed to the feed and read new posts every day :-)

anon44174
Post 4

what are the present applications using fullerenes?

anon28534
Post 3

Is there any different between buckytubes and carbon nanotubes(SWCNTs & MWCNTs)?

anon26476
Post 2

what is the present international price of raw fullerenes ore??

and some lead on prospective buyers.

tnx

raj/goa/India

anon11224
Post 1

what are the properties of buckminsterfullerene?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email