Buckyball

Laser Crystals

Laser Crystals

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Carbon-60 has been around as long as soot, but it was noticed only recently, earning the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. It's one of the family of fullerenes (after Buckminster Fuller of course), and the consequences are still unfolding.

The properties of fullerenes are unusual in every way. Shown in this crystal is a buckyball in a buckytube: this configuration has been produced physically, and is known to its friends as a "bucky peapod".

One interesting thing that the C-60 "soccer ball" form can do is to contain an atom or small molecule inside the sphere. It's well known that this points towards new types of batteries, lubricants and superconductors, but it also has more exotic consequences. For instance, geologists are now looking for fossil isotope concentrations preserved inside ancient buckyballs, which could tell us more about meteorite impacts in earlier epochs.

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Laser etched glass
80 x 50 x 50mm