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Who discovered Fullerene?

Last updated date: 17th Jul 2024
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Hint: Fullerenes belong to the study of Nanomaterials in the field of Chemistry. Three researchers were mainly responsible for its discovery. They were also awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, $1996.$

Complete answer:
Fullerene is any molecule which is completely composed of carbon in the form of hollow ellipsoid, sphere or tube. It is an allotrope of carbon, placing third after graphite and diamond. Fullerenes were discovered by the researchers Richard E. Smalley, Robert F. Curl Jr. and Harold W. Kroto in $1985.$ Richard E. Smalley and Robert F. Curl Jr. were from Rice University, Houston, and Harold W. Kroto belonged to University of Sussex in Brighton, United Kingdom. They made their discovery in Smalley's lab at Rice university, while working together to study how carbon atoms form clusters.
The first fullerene to be discovered was ${C_{60}}.$ It was a spherical fullerene called Buckminsterfullerene. It consists of $60$ carbon atoms in the sphere, hence commonly known as ${C_{60}}.$ Buckminsterfullerene has a football type arrangement, having pentagonal and hexagonal arrangement of the atoms without any of the two pentagons sharing an edge. Spherical fullerenes were generally termed as buckyballs. The name “Buckminster fullerene” was proposed as to pay homage to the American architect Buckminster Fuller for his Geodesic dome which looked oddly similar to the molecule in its structure. Other than spherical Fullerenes, cylindrical Fullerenes, called carbon nanotubes (CNT), were found. Their unique molecular structure has given rise to its extraordinary properties and wide range of applications.

The Nobel Prize in chemistry, $1996$ , was awarded to Smalley, Curl and Kroto for their discovery of fullerenes by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Some applications of Fullerene include: drug delivery, photodynamic therapy, X-ray imaging contrast agents et cetera.