Nanotube technology. Computer artwork of four cylindrical fullerenes (carbon nanotubes) of varying size, with the smaller ones nested inside the larger ones. A possible application of such a structure is to have the nanotubes telescope in and out and oscillate at a high frequency, forming a nanoscale radio transmitter. The hexagonal carbon structure of the nanotubes is shown here. Fullerenes are a structural form (allotrope) of carbon. Theoretically, a wide range of molecular shapes can be engineered at the molecular level using fullerenes. Such structures are being investigated for a wide range of technological and medical uses
© PASIEKA/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Buckyball molecule. Computer artwork of a molecule of buckminsterfullerene (C60), a spherical fullerene and the first fullerene to be discovered (in 1985). It is named after the architect Richard Buckminster Fuller, who popularised geodesic domes of a similar shape. Fullerenes are a structural type (allotrope) of carbon. The molecular model here shows the spherical arrangement of the 60 carbon atoms in rings of pentagons and hexagons. The spherical fullerenes are sometimes referred to as buckyballs. As of 2006, research was being conducted into the use of fullerenes for medical purposes. Fullerenes are also being investigated for their physical and chemical properties
© LAGUNA DESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artists concept showing carbon balls ejecting out from a dying white star in a planetary
Artist's concept showing carbon balls coming out from the type of object where they were discovered, a dying star and the material it sheds, known as a planetary nebula. The official name of these carbon balls is a buckminsterfullerene, and often referred to as buckyballs. Buckyballs are made up of 60 carbon atoms organized into spherical structures that resemble soccer balls.
The Spitzer Space Telescope was able to find convincing signs of buckyballs using its sensitive infrared vision. The telescope found the molecules, as well as their elongated, rugby-ball-like relatives, called C70, in the material around a dying star, or planetary nebula, called Tc 1. The star at the center of Tc 1 was once similar to our sun but as it aged, it sloughed off its outer layers, leaving only a dense white dwarf star. Astronomers believe buckyballs were created in shed layers of carbon that blew off the star.
Tc 1 does not show up that well in images, so a picture of the NGC 2440 nebula was used in this artist's conception
© Stocktrek Images