Number 26 (Story #2), March, 22 1991 by Phillip F. Schewe and Ben Stein|
THE WOODSTOCK OF CARBON? A special session on carbon-60, held at the American Physical Society meeting this week in Cincinnati, reviewed what was known about this new form of carbon. First of all, Buckyballs are always spinning; because they are nearly spherical and noninteractive, there is nothing for other molecules to grab onto. C-60 is the most photo-stable molecule: 35-eV photons are needed to blast them apart. Robert Fleming of AT&T Bell Labs reported that in the solid form C-60 molecules pack together as if they were smooth 7-angstrom-diameter balls with a nearest-neighbor spacing of 10 angstroms. The individual bonds betweens carbons have an average length of 1.4 angstroms. Fleming grew C-60 crystals in the form of thin needles which, when examined by x-ray diffraction, exhibited a curious pseudo-10-fold symmetry. Richard Smalley (713-527-4845) of Rice University, who received the Langmuir Prize at the meeting, said that of all the elements only carbon would likely form molecules like the Buckyball.