VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY VOLKER STEGER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Robert F. Curl Jr. American chemist. Curl is professor of chemistry at Rice University, Houston, USA. In 1996 he was awarded, along with Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of fullerenes (Buckyballs). Using a laser-supersonic cluster beam apparatus, they were able to vaporise carbon into a plasma of atoms which formed clusters. In 1985 they first postulated a three-dimensional structure for this new form of carbon (C60). The molecular structure was described as a polyhedron cage with 20 hexagonal surfaces and 12 pentagonal surfaces, the same pattern as that of a football. The scientists named the new form of carbon after the architect R. Buckminster Fuller, who designed the geodetic dome for the 1967 Montreal World Exhibition.
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