Scientists build world's smallest 'water bottle'

Scientists have designed and built a container that holds just a single water molecule. The container consists of a fullerene cage and a phosphate moiety that acts as the “cap” to keep the water inside.

Boron 'buckyball' discovered

The discovery 30 years ago of soccer-ball-shaped carbon molecules called buckyballs helped to spur an explosion of nanotechnology research. Now, there appears to be a new ball on the pitch.

Has graphene been detected in space?

( -- A team of astronomers, using the Spitzer Space Telescope, have reported the first extragalactic detection of the C70 fullerene molecule, and the possible detection of planar C24 ("a piece of graphene") in ...

Hydrogen opens the road to graphene ... and graphane

( -- An international research team has discovered a new method to produce belts of graphene called nanoribbons. By using hydrogen, they have managed to unzip single-walled carbon nanotubes. The method also opens ...

A new form of carbon: Grossly warped 'nanographene'

Chemists at Boston College and Nagoya University in Japan have synthesized the first example of a new form of carbon, the team reports in the most recent online edition of the journal Nature Chemistry.

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A fullerene is any molecule composed entirely of carbon, in the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, or tube. Spherical fullerenes are also called buckyballs, and they resemble the balls used in association football. Cylindrical ones are called carbon nanotubes or buckytubes. Fullerenes are similar in structure to graphite, which is composed of stacked graphene sheets of linked hexagonal rings; but they may also contain pentagonal (or sometimes heptagonal) rings.

The first fullerene to be discovered, and the family's namesake, buckminsterfullerene (C60), was prepared in 1985 by Richard Smalley, Robert Curl, James Heath, Sean O'Brien, and Harold Kroto at Rice University. The name was an homage to Buckminster Fuller, whose geodesic domes it resembles. The structure was also identified some five years earlier by Sumio Iijima, from an electron microscope image, where it formed the core of a "bucky onion." Fullerenes have since been found to occur in nature. More recently, fullerenes have been detected in outer space. According to astronomer Letizia Stanghellini, "It’s possible that buckyballs from outer space provided seeds for life on Earth.”

The discovery of fullerenes greatly expanded the number of known carbon allotropes, which until recently were limited to graphite, diamond, and amorphous carbon such as soot and charcoal. Buckyballs and buckytubes have been the subject of intense research, both for their unique chemistry and for their technological applications, especially in materials science, electronics, and nanotechnology.

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