Buckyballs were discovered in 1985, the product of an experiment on carbon molecules in space.  However, it was not until 1991 that buckyball science came into its own.  It is the roundest and most symmetrical large molecule known to man.

The 1996 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three chemists for their discovery of fullerenes, a family of highly symmetrical carbon-cage molecules whose prototypical member is C60, known as buckminsterfullerene, or “buckyball” for short, one of the strongest atomic structures known to man.

C60 is the third major form of pure carbon; graphite and diamond are the other two.  C60 is a spherical molecule with the geometry of a truncated icosahedron, a polygon with 60 vertices and 32 faces, 12 of which are pentagons and 20 of which are hexagons.  The geometry is the same as the pattern of seams on a soccer ball, or of the geodesic domes developed by architect Buckminster Fuller.  Hence, the name buckminsterfullerene, or buckyball.

Buckministerfullerine continues to astonish with one amazing property after another, named after the American architect R. Buckminister Fuller who designed a geodesic dome (a sphere made of triangles).  with the same fundamental symmetry.



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