Press Esc to close
Sunday 20 August 2017
News updated at 11:01 AM IST

Sixty atoms, in a geodesic dome

Last updated: 06 December, 2010
Radhakrishna Rao 18:46 IST

Carbon nanotubes, the discovery of which has been traced to a seminal 1991 paper authored by Sumio lijima of Japans NEC Corporation, are today the most attractive and exciting face of nanotechnology.

Carbon nanotubes contribute to the radical advances in the areas of electronics, energy, medicine and materials. Indeed, a range of exciting applications proposed for high-strength carbon nanotubes include high performance composites, energy storage and energy conversion devices, sensors, field emission displays and radiation sources, hydrogen storage systems as well nanometre-sized semiconductor devices and probes. Known for their phenomenal tensile strength, carbon nanotubes can act as a conductor or a semiconductor depending upon the arrangement of carbon atoms. Researchers have now devised simpler and easier techniques to engineer carbon nanotubes by triggering an electric arc between two graphite electrodes or passing hydrocarbon gas over a metal catalyst.

It was an epochal research breakthrough reported in 1985 that ultimately paved the way for the evolution of carbon nanotubes. In an experiment spearheaded by a team of researchers at Rice University, a form of solid carbon, totally different and distinct from diamond and graphite was discovered. In this innovative study, which was described as the future of technology, a graphite sample was subjected to jet laser spectroscopy which helped researchers record an abundance of carbon clusters, each of which contained sixty atoms. But what confounded the researchers was the uniqueness of mechanism which helped these sixty atoms to remain in a totally stable configuration.

Subsequent probing went on to show that one carbon atom lies at each vertex of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons arranged into a structure that looked similar to a soccer ball.

What gave buckyballs their name?

The carbon molecule made up of 60 atoms arranged in a series of interlocking hexagons and pentagons came to be named “buckminsterfullerene” after R Buckminister Fuller, the celebrated American architect who designed a geodesic dome with the same fundamental symmetry. Interestingly, buckyball has been described as the rounder and most symmetrical large molecule ever discovered by man. Being the roundest of round molecules, the buckyball is quite resistant to high speed collisions. In fact, the buckyball can withstand slamming into a stainless steel plate at 15,000mph, merely bouncing back unharmed. When compressed to 70% of its original size, the buckyball becomes more than twice as hard as diamond. It is these unique qualities that makes development of carbon nanotubes that are stronger than steel possible.

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Bollywood actor Vidyut Jamwal showcases a creation by designer Kazingmei during Lakme Fashion...

Bollywood actor Vidyut Jamwal showcases a creation by designer Kazingmei during Lakme Fashion...

Farmers takes part in oxen race of Kalapoottu in Pullaloor in Kozhikode...

Farmers takes part in oxen race of Kalapoottu in Pullaloor in Kozhikode...

Youngsters sit inside Humes pipes at a city street in Kolkata...

Youngsters sit inside Humes pipes at a city street in Kolkata...

Devotees performs 'Deodhani', a traditional folk dance from the Indian state of Assam...

Devotees performs 'Deodhani', a traditional folk dance from the Indian state of Assam...

Children stand waist-deep in flood water as they wait for rescue workers in Katihar...

Children stand waist-deep in flood water as they wait for rescue workers in Katihar...

A  file photo of  Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka...

A file photo of Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka...

Trainee recruits of Army undergo physical training at the Parachute Regiment Training...

Trainee recruits of Army undergo physical training at the Parachute Regiment Training...

A Chimpanzee looks on, at Alipore Zoological Garden in Kolkata...

A Chimpanzee looks on, at Alipore Zoological Garden in Kolkata...

A beautiful view of peacock on blooming tree branch at Bengre in Mangaluru...

A beautiful view of peacock on blooming tree branch at Bengre in Mangaluru...

People with their household belongings move to a relief camp from a flood-hit region...

People with their household belongings move to a relief camp from a flood-hit region...

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523
Powered by Yodasoft Technologies Pvt. Ltd.