::FUN CHEMISTRY FACT OF THE DAY, PART 6::
This is the coolest molecule ever
Buckminsterfullerene, or C60
, is named after the architect who designed the geodesic dome. This "buckyball" is arranged with carbon atoms at the vertices of a soccer ball-like construction. They're extremely resilient (able to withstand collision with a steel plate at 15,000 miles per hour), and they can be turned into diamond at room temperature (unlike graphite, which is also all-carbon).
Adding stuff to buckyballs makes for fronteirs-of-the-imagination kinds of application. Putting atoms or molecules inside buckyballs does weird things.
Adding just the right number of potassium atoms in a buckyball makes a powerful superconductor. Making "fuzzyballs" by adding single atoms to the outside of the buckyball leads to a slicker substance than teflon; C60
, a "fully-chlorinated" buckyball, is the slickest lubricant known to science. And, heh, a whitepaper in which scientists sever two adjacent bonds in C60
, entitled "There Is a Hole in My Bucky" [Journal of the American Chemical Society
, 117 (1995) 7003]! Yay!
A "Bucky Tube" is a however-long-you-want-it tube made up of a carbon lattice, and they have amazing chemical and physical properties. There are also Heterofullerenes, in which some carbon atoms are replaced by others.
Sadly, Fuller died before he could see the veritable explosion that this molecule has made in terms of scientific discovery. Hats off to you, Buck.