Nested fullerene molecules

Nested fullerene molecules

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Credit: ALFRED PASIEKA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Nested fullerene molecules, computer graphic. Fullerenes are structural forms (allotropes) of carbon. The carbon (C) atoms (spheres) are bonded together in a "football" structure based on pentagons and hexagons. The first fullerene, buckminsterfullerene (C60) was discovered in 1985. Since then, fullerenes have been synthesised that range from 36 to 540 carbon atoms in size. Their novel physical and chemical properties are being exploited to make new catalysts, lubricants and superconductors. They are also used in nanotechnology.

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