What is a buckyball (C60)
Buckyballs, also called fullerenes, were one of the first
nanoparticles discovered. This discovery happened in 1985 by a trio of
researchers working out of Rice University named Richard Smalley, Harry
Kroto, and Robert Curl.
Buckyballs are composed of carbon atoms linked to three other carbon
atoms by covalent bonds. However, the carbon atoms are connected in the
same pattern of hexagons and pentagons you find on a soccer ball, giving
a buckyball the spherical structure as shown in the following figure.
The most common buckyball contains 60 carbon atoms and is sometimes
called C60.Other sizes of buckyballs range from those containing 20
carbon atoms to those containing more than 100 carbon atoms.
The covalent bonds between carbon atoms make buckyballs very strong,
and the carbon atoms readily form covalent bonds with a variety of other
atoms. Buckyballs are used in composites to strengthen material.
Buckyballs have the interesting electrical property of being very good
electron acceptors, which means they accept loose electrons from other
materials. This feature is useful, for example, in increasing the
efficiency of solar cells in transforming sunlight into electricity.
Excerpted from Nanotechnology For Dummies (2nd edition), from Wiley Publishing