Probing C60

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Science  18 Nov 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4881, pp. 1017-1022
DOI: 10.1126/science.242.4881.1017


Experiments involving the laser vaporization of graphite have indicated that one particular duster of carbon, C60, is preeminently stable; this special stability may be evidence that C60 can readily take the form of a hollow truncated icosahedron (a sort of molecular soccerball). If true, this structure for C60 would be the first example of a spherical aromatic molecule. In fact, because of symmetry properties unique to the number 60, it may be the most perfecty spherical, edgeless molecule possible. Its rapid formation in condensing carbon vapors and its extreme chemical and photophysical stability may have far-reaching implications in a number of areas, particularly combustion science and astrophysics. For these reasons C60 and other dusters of carbon have continued to be the subject of intense research. This article provides a short review of the many new experimental probes of the properties of C60 and related carbon dusters.