Dawn of Fullerenes: Conjecture and Experiment (Nobel Lecture)

Authors

  • Prof. Robert F. Curl

    Corresponding author
    1. Chemistry Department and Rice Quantum Institute Rice University Houston, TX 77005 (USA) Fax: Int. code +(713)285-5155
    • Chemistry Department and Rice Quantum Institute Rice University Houston, TX 77005 (USA) Fax: Int. code +(713)285-5155
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  • Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1997. We thank the Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, for permission to print this lecture.

Abstract

Although counterintuitive, the conjecture that high-symmetry, low-entropy truncated icosahedron C60 spontaneously forms out of the chaos of condensing carbon vapor proved to be true. The observation that the cluster of 60 carbon atoms is singularly chemically unreactive, as exemplified by its flagpole prominence in mass spectra, could be explained only by this hypothesis. This resulted in more conjecture, some of which proved correct, whereas others relating C60 to diffuse interstellar bonds and soot formation remain speculative. Even if of questionable validity, these speculations have played a useful role in driving chemists to think about the formation of fullerenes and other carbon morphologies.

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