of three known pure forms of carbon
(graphite and diamond being the other two) that
takes a spherical shape with a hollow interior. Buckyballs, named because
they resemble the geodesic domes
built by architect Buckminster Fuller, were discovered in 1985 among the
byproducts of laser
vaporization of graphite
in which the carbon
atoms are arranged in sheets. Though C60, referring to
the number of carbon
atoms that make up one sphere, is the most common fullerene, researchers have found stable, spherical carbon
structures containing 70 atoms
(C70), 120 (C120), 180 (C180), and others. Robert F. Curl Jr. And Richard E.
Smalley, both of Rice University in Houston, Texas and Harold W. Kroto of the
University of Sussex in England, won the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their discovery of buckminsterfullerene, the scientific
name for buckyballs.