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Shrink-wrapped buckyballs caught on film

Shrink-wrapped buckyballs caught on film

New Scientist

Image: St Stev

Blink and you might miss it. Researchers have captured the rapid formation of buckyballs – carbon spheres just 1 nanometre in diameter – on film for the first time.

The footage shows how buckyballs, or C60 fullerenes, form in a new process where a thin sheet of graphite exposed to high temperatures shrinks and loses carbon atoms, says Boris Yakobson at Rice University in Houston, Texas, US.

“It’s a bit like polishing a diamond,” he says. “The starting point is a large, angular carbon sheet, and heat helps remove the imperfections and form symmetrical C60 spheres.”

Buckyballs could have a wide range of potential applications, from medical imaging to toxic waste clean-up, although there are also concerns over their potential toxicity. Read more on…