- officially "Buckminsterfullerenes" - are tiny footballs made of 60
carbon atoms.Their unique spherical structure is
extraordinarily stable,and can be used to trap other atoms in a cage. They
may be the most important building blocks of a molecular Meccano set,and
may one day be used to create atomic scale machines and structures.
|Scientists make buckyballs by aiming a laser at a carbon target. Buckyballs were first found in 1985, but only in minute quantities - just enough to detect|
Scientists are rushing to explore their astounding possibilities.So far,likely
possibilities are uses as superconductors,or virus killers - and NASA even
believes buckyballs of nitrogen (instead of carbon) might be the
rocket fuel.There are other buckyballs containing larger numbers of
atoms,which are more egg-shaped than spherical.
|This "electron density map" shows the pattern of five and six atoms rings that make up a molecule of buckminsterfullerene. The cage of atoms can trap a larger atom inside|
The most useful product of buckyball fever may be a different breed of exotic carbon molecule.Graphite is made up of layers of carbon atoms arranged in linking hexagonal rings. Japanese researchers experimented with rolling these flat sheets into a tube.The result - a "nanotube" - is a very strong and stiff whisker of carbon.If a way to produce nanotubes on a large scale can be found - and the early signs are encouraging - they may be the molecular stars of the next generation of advanced materials.
File Info: Created --/--/-- Updated 27/9/2005 Page Address:http://members.fortunecity.com/templarseries/Yahoo/Omegaman/c60.html