COOL IMAGES: Having a Bucky Ball

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Science  21 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5452, pp. 387
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5452.387a

Since their discovery in 1985, buckyballs have captivated researchers seeking practical uses for the tiny all-carbon cages, also known as fullerenes. Several Web sites provide vivid illustrations for anyone curious about what happens when carbon atoms are linked together into Tinkertoy-like spheres. This image of the classic 60-carbon ball comes from the State University of New York, Stony Brook. Another site there offers virtual reality images that let users poke around inside a lattice of buckyballs stuffed with alkali atoms such that it poses no resistance to the flow of electrons, or superconducts. Click on “fullerene related” sites to reach more galleries. A site in Japan, for example, features Java applets with which users can twist and zoom in on buckyballs with anywhere from 20 to 100 carbons (many of which have never been created). You can also link to striking images posted by Richard Smalley, co-winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of buckyballs, as well as a Michigan site with nifty animations simulating what it might look like when fullerenes melt.

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