Molecule Advent Day 2: Buckyball

We each have an energy

That affects the directions

Of atoms, each other and Education

It’s day two of our Christmas countdown and today Jenny Bartle is exploring an intriguing structure made only of carbon:

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What happens when you take 60 Carbon atoms and make them into a sphere?

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You get the charismatic little Buckminster Fullerene, also known as a buckyball. This molecule is named after Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome, which the buckyball clearly resembles. Surprisingly, these carbon structures do naturally occur in soot, but chemists also use them as the wheels on nano-cars!

The first nano-car was made in 2005 in order to examine how buckyballs would move on a metal surface. It turned out that they roll just like a normal football, and this work was awarded part of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2016.

Want a molecular drag race? You’ll need some buckyballs for that!

We have even created virtual reality buckyballs which were enjoyed and explored by students in our school workshops.

 

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Students doing some molecular play with an Occulus Rift and a Buckyball in Nano Simbox.