[Photo: The Icosahedral Fullerene C540]
Harold Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley discover fullerenes, a
class of large carbon molecules superficially resembling the geodesic dome
designed by architect R. Buckminster Fuller.
Fullerenes are a family of carbon allotropes,
molecules composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere,
ellipsoid, tube, or plane . Spherical fullerenes are also called buckyballs, and cylindrical ones are
called carbon nanotubes or buckytubes.
Graphene is an example of a planar fullerene sheet. Fullerenes are similar in
structure to graphite, which is composed of stacked sheets of linked hexagonal
rings, but may also contain pentagonal (or sometimes heptagonal) rings that
would prevent a sheet from being planar.
Fullerenes were discovered
in 1985 by Robert Curl, Harold Kroto and Richard Smalley at the University of Sussex
and Rice University, and are named after Richard