Fullerene C60 in a spherical shape is an extremely stable form of carbon having molecules of 60 atoms arranged in a polyhedron resembling a geodesic sphere. Fullerene 60 consists of interconnected pentagons and hexagons and is believed to be a major constituent of soot.
Fullerenes, were one of the first nanoparticles/nanopowder discovered. This discovery happened in 1985 by a trio of researchers working out of Rice University named Richard Smalley, Harry Kroto, and Robert Curl. The molecule, having its carbon atoms linked to three other carbon atoms by covalent bonds in the same pattern of hexagons and pentagons giving a buckyball the spherical structure, which resembled something like a soccer ball. It reminded them of something from the field of architecture—the futuristic “geodesic” domes invented by Buckminster Fuller in the 1930s. So they gave this new molecule the name “buckminsterfullerene” and although it is usually shorted to “fullerene” or “buckyball,” the name has stuck. Many other balls of carbon called fullerenes, have since been made, including C70, C76, and C84. Other sizes of buckyballs range from those containing 20 carbon atoms to those containing more than 100 carbon atoms.
Buckyballs generated a lot of excitement in scientific circles, and earned Curl, Kroto, and Smalley a Nobel Prize in 1996, all before any good use for them had been dreamed up. Buckyballs, they were discovering, could bounce, return to their original shape if squeezed, and spin at amazingly high speeds.
Fullerene C60 was recently confirmed as the largest molecule identified in space. However, it remains unclear how and where this molecule is formed. It is generally believed that fullerene C60 is formed from the buildup of small carbonaceous compounds in the hot and dense envelopes of evolved stars. The covalent bonds between carbon atoms make fullerene 60 very strong, and the carbon atoms readily form covalent bonds with a variety of other atoms. Fullerene 60 has an interesting electrical property of being very good electron acceptors, which means they accept loose electrons from other materials. This feature is useful, for example, in increasing the efficiency of solar cells in transforming sunlight into electricity.
Applications of Fullerene 60:
Fullerene 60 is used in lubricants
Fullerene 60 is used in nanotubes.
Fullerene 60 is used in drugs.
Fullerene 60 is used in microscopes.
Fullerene 60 is used in solar cells.
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