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Today in Science

If you entered the Google search engine webpage today, you should see a representation of buckyball instead of the usual second “O.”

What Is Buckyball?

Buckyball – scientifically known as Buckminsterfullerene (C60) – is a hollow, spherical carbon structures of the fullerene family, which consist of linked pentagonal or heptagonal ring-based carbon structures. Buckyball contain links of twelve pentagonal rings, two of which never share the same side, and twenty hexagonal rings.

Buckyball resembles a soccer ball and is known for being the “roundest of round molecules.” Their amazing degree of rotundity contribute to their resistance to high speed collisions. To put that in perspective, buckyball “can withstand slamming into a stainless steel plate at 15,000 mph, merely bouncing back, unharmed.”

How Was Buckyball discovered?

Twenty-five years ago, buckyball was discovered by chemists R.E. Smalley and H.F. Kroto, and their graduate students. Smalley, Kroto, and their assistants were studying carbon-based interstellar materials with spectroscopy. They were already aware of long carbon chains in space. However, they did find that buckyballs in space had the same basic properties as those of buckyballs on Earth.

If you would like to read more about the specific lab techniques used to measure buckyball, please click here.


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