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Atomic Structure

Nanoscience and Nanoparticles.

What is Buckminsterfullerene?

In 1985 a new allotrope of carbon (C60) was discovered.
Sixty carbon atoms form the shape of a ball like a football
with a carbon atom at each corner
of the 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons.
Each carbon atom (shown below as a circle) has three bonds.

C60 Buckminster Fullerene

The size of the molecule is almost exactly 1nm in diameter.
The ratio of the size of an ordinary soccer ball
to the planet Earth is the same as
the ratio of the size of a C60 molecule to a soccer ball.

These are not called giant molecules
because there are only sixty atoms.
A large number of these molecules can fit together
to form a transparent yellow solid called fullerite.

This form of carbon
was named after the American architect Buckminster Fuller,
who was famous for designing a large geodesic dome
which looked similar (sort of) to the molecular structure of C60.

Many other balls of carbon called fullerenes,
have since been made, including C70, C76, and C84.
These molecules have become known as "buckyballs".

Fullerenes are used as catalysts and lubricants.
They are also used in nanotubes for strengthening materials
(for example sports equipment) and are
sometimes used as a way of delivering drugs into the body.

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