Roll Over Image to Zoom ‹ Back to Collection

Component for the AP2 Supersonic Laser Vaporization Cluster-Beam Apparatus

  • Varian
    United States
  • 5.25 in. H x 10 in. diameter
    Stainless steel, ceramic, copper
  • The Richard Smalley Collection
  • 2004.026.007

Description

Discovered in 1985 by the Rice University research team headed by Richard Smalley, Robert Curl, Jr., and Sir Harold Kroto, carbon-60, also known as buckminsterfullerene or a buckyball, is an allotrope of carbon that has a molecular shape similar to a soccer ball or a geodesic dome of futurist architect R. Buckminster Fuller. Extremely stable and capable of conducting electricity, buckyballs opened up a new area of study in fullerenes, which are being explored for their potential in nanotechnology, electronics, optics, and other material-science fields.   

In the discovery of buckyballs, pulsed laser beams directed at a sample of carbon in the main chamber of the AP2 instrument created a plume of vaporized carbon hotter than the temperature at which some stars are formed. A stream of helium brought about sudden and extreme cooling and the clustering of carbon atoms. A skimmer at the threshold of an adjacent vacuum chamber collected the clusters for analysis by a mass spectrometer.

Smalley, Curl, and Kroto shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “their discovery of fullerenes.”

Search Our Online Collections

Arnold O. Beckman

CHF’s Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry was started with a generous grant from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation in 1987.

 

Distillations

Listen to the latest episodes of CHF’s award-winning science podcast.

 

Support CHF

Help us preserve and share the history of chemistry and related sciences. Make a tax-deductible donation online.

Meet the Othmers