GEOFF TOMPKINSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEOFF TOMPKINSON / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ball-and-spoke molecular graphic representation of a molecule of Buckminsterfullerene (C60), a 60- atom molecule of pure carbon. The molecule shows an icosahedral shape reminiscent of the geodesic domes designed by architect Richard Buckminster Fuller. The first description of the structure, nicknamed the 'Buckyball', appeared in a paper by Kroto et al in 1985. The surface is made from interlinked hexagons and pentagons, the same pattern as on a soccer ball. A whole family of fullerenes is now known, with between 36 and 540 carbon atoms per molecule. Fullerenes are expected to be of use in lubricants, in nanometre-scale electronics and superconductor research.
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