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Definition

fullerene

A fullerene is a pure carbon molecule composed of at least 60 atom s of carbon. Because a fullerene takes a shape similar to a soccer ball or a geodesic dome, it is sometimes referred to as a buckyball after the inventor of the geodesic dome, Buckminster Fuller, for whom the fullerene is more formally named. Fullerenes are seen as promising components of future micro-electromechanical systems ( MEMS ) and in nanotechnology . Current work on the fullerene is largely theoretical and experimental.

NASA, in co-operation with geochemist Lynn Becker from the University of Hawaii, has discovered naturally-occuring fullerenes in ancient meteorites that hit the Earth. Recent research has suggested many uses for fullerenes, including medical applications, superconductors, and fiber-optics.

This was last updated in June 2007

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