What is Fullerene?

Fullerene is one of the allotropic forms of the carbon. The other name of fullerene is buckminsterfullerene. In this allotropic form of carbon, the carbon molecules are arranged in a series and form a cage like structure. This structure of fullerene is hollow in nature.In this allotropic form when the carbon molecules are arranged in a cylindrical form, they form a tube like structure. These tube-like structures are known as carbon nanotubes.

Fullerene Structure

In nature, fullerenes, especially the C60 sphere, are highly symmetrical. Fullerenes have a similar structure to graphite, which is made up of a sheet of connected hexagonal rings, but they have pentagonal (or sometimes heptagonal) rings that prevent the sheet from being planar. Buckyballs and buckytubes are terms used to describe them depending on their shape. Cylindrical fullerenes are referred to as nanotubes. C60 is the most common fullerene, with no two pentagons sharing an edge. A C60 molecule's average carbon-carbon bond length is 1.44 angstrom.

Properties of Fullerene

Physical Properties of Fullerene

  • Fullerene shows variation in behaviour and structure on changing the temperature. At a higher temperature the fullerene is converted into the C70 form. 

  • Fullerene shows change in structure under different pressures.

  • The ionization enthalpy of fullerene is 7.61 electron volts.

  • The electron affinity of fullerene is 2.6 to 2.8 electrons volts.

Chemical Properties of Fullerene

  • Fullerene (C60) resembles an electrophile in the chemical reactions.

  • Fullerene can act as an electron acceptor group. It can easily accept three electrons or more. Therefore, it can behave as an oxidizing agent.

  • Fullerenes are doped with the alkali or alkaline earth metals, so that it can exhibit superconductivity properties.

  • Ferromagnetism is a property of fullerene.

  • Carbon molecules abound in fullerene. As a result, it's very soluble in organic solvents.

Types of Fullerene

  1. Buckminsterfullerene

  2. Endohedral Fullerene

  3. Herbal fullerenes

  4. Buckyball Clusters

  5. Nanotubes 

  6. Megatubes 

  7. Linked bucky ball and chain Dimers

  8. Herbal fullerenes

Some of the Forms of Fullerenes are Discussed Below:

Buckyball Clusters

These forms of fullerenes are the smallest member of the fullerene group. Its structural formula is C20. These fullerenes are unsaturated versions of dodecahedra.


These forms of fullerene are hollow tubes of very small dimensions, having single or multiple walls. These types of fullerenes play an important role in the electronics industry.


These are larger in diameter than the nanotubes. These types of fullerenes are prepared with walls of different thickness. It is potentially used for the transport of a variety of molecules of different sizes.

Linked Ball and Chain Dimer

In this form of fullerene, two buckyballs are linked by a carbon chain.


Buckminsterfullerene is the most common form of the fullerene. It exists in C60 form. 

Use of Fullerene

The use of buckminsterfullerene is based on its chemical properties and its physical properties. Let us discuss the use of fullerene.

  • Fullerene is used as conductors.

  • It can be used as an absorbent for gases.

  • Fullerene is used as lubricants.

  • Some forms of the fullerenes are used in making cosmetics related materials.

  • Carbon nanotubes are made up of graphene sheets.

  • Some forms of fullerenes are used in biomedical applications.

  • Fullerenes are used in making carbon nanotubes based fabrics and fibres.

Did You Know?

  • Fullerenes are of different types C60, C70, C80, and C90. It can exist in various forms, depending on the number of the carbon atom present in the molecule.

  • The fullerene was discovered by the scientist named Buckminster. Therefore, it is named buckminsterfullerene.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Explain the Structure of Fullerene.

Answer: Fullerenes, especially the C60 sphere, are highly symmetrical in nature. Fullerenes are made up of a sheet of connected hexagonal rings, similar to graphite, except they have pentagonal (or sometimes heptagonal) rings that prevent the sheet from being planar. Depending on their form, they are referred to as buckyballs or buckytubes. Nanotubes are fullerenes that are cylindrical in shape. The most popular fullerene is C60, which has no two pentagons with the same tip. The average carbon-carbon bond length in a C60 molecule is 1.44 angstrom.

2. Explain the Properties of Fullerene.

Answer: The Properties of fullerene are discussed below:

Physical Properties of Fullerene are:

  • As the temperature is increased, the behaviour and structure of fullerene changes. The fullerene is converted to the C70 form at a higher temperature.

  • Under various stresses, the structure of fullerene shifts.

  • Fullerene has an ionisation enthalpy of 7.61 electron volts.

  • Fullerene has an electron affinity of 2.6 to 2.8 electron volts.

Chemical Properties of Fullerene are:

  • In chemical reactions, fullerene (C60) resembles an electrophile.

  • Fullerene has the capacity to serve as an electron acceptor. It can easily accept three or more electrons. As a consequence, it has the ability to act as an oxidising agent.

  • To achieve superconductivity, fullerenes are doped with alkali or alkaline earth metals.