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Overall View of Fullerenes Natural Carbons can usually exist in several forms The most common are Graphite and diamond but most people dont know that there is a third typefullerenes Many have mistaken these fullerenes for a new type of carbon Fullerenes have been discovered in interstellar dust as well as in geological formations on Earth but they are very new to us As with many important scientific discoveries Fullerenes were discovered by accident The C60 molecule was discovered by Harold Kroto James Heath Sean OBrien Robert Curl and Richard Smalley in 1985 The group actually tried to understand the absorption spectra of interstellar dust which they suspected to be related to some kind of long-chained carbon molecules Unfortunately they could not solve that problem But their work was not completely unsuccessful since in the course of their experiments they discovered the Buckyball which gathered so much excitement among scientists and won Curl Kroto and Smalley the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry This new family of non-planar carbon compounds has gathered enormous interest within the scientific community in such a short period of time with thousands of papers published about fullerenes and fullerene-based materials to date Buckminster fullerene molecules consist of 60 carbon atoms linked together arranged as 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons to form an almost spherical ball with the chemical formula C60 The bonds between atoms form a pattern of joined hexagons and pentagons that is similar to the panels on a soccer ball The most striking property of the C60 molecule is its high symmetry There are 120 symmetry operations like rotations around an axis or reflections in a plane which map the molecule on to itself This makes C60 the molecule with the largest number of symmetry operations the most symmetric molecule It should come as no surprise that a shape as symmetric and striking as that of the C60 molecule has occupied many artists and mathematicians over
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