Richard Smalley nobel laureate discoverer of buckminsterfullerene

Richard Smalley – discoverer of buckminsterfullerene

Category : Personalities
Published by : Data Research Analyst,

Biography & contributions

Richard Smalley was a Professor of Chemistry and Nobel laureate born on June 06, 1943 – died on October 28, 2005. Richard is well known for his discovery of buckminsterfullerene [buckyballs] and the fullerenes.

Richard was the receiver of many notable awards and prizes in career such as Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics from American Physical Society in the year of 1991, Popular Science Magazine Grand Award in Science & Technology in the year of 1991, in the year of 1992 he got APS International Prize for New Materials, APS International Prize for New Materials, Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award from U.S. Department of Energy, Welch Award in Chemistry from Robert A. Welch Foundation , Auburn-G.M. Kosolapoff Award from American chemical society, Southwest Regional Award from American Chemical Society.

William H. Nichols Medal from American Chemical Society in the year of 1993, The John Scott Award in 1993, Hewlett-Packard Euro physics Prize from European Physical Society in the year of 1994, Harrison Howe Award American Chemical Society in 1994, Madison Marshall Award from American Chemical Society in 1995, Franklin Medal from The Franklin Institute in the year of 1996, Nobel Prize in Chemistry from Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1996, Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Smalley invented high-pressure carbon monoxide (HiPco) method and also designed a laser supersonic cluster beam apparatus.


Fullerenes are any molecules composed entirely of carbon, taking the form of a hollow sphere, ellipsoid, tube or ring. Fullerenes are not very reactive due to the stability of the graphite-like bonds, and are also fairly insoluble in many solvents.

Fullerenes are similar in structure to graphite, which is composed of a sheet of linked hexagonal rings, but they contain pentagonal rings that prevent the sheet from being planar. They are sometimes jocularly called buckyballs or buckytubes, depending on the shape. Cylindrical fullerenes are often called nanotubes. The smallest fullerene in which no two pentagons share an edge is C60, and as such it is also the most common. Fullerenes are highly stable chemically and have a variety of unusual properties.

 The characteristic reaction of fullerenes is electrophilic addition at 6,6-double bonds, which reduces angle strain by changing sp2-hybridized carbons into sp3-hybridized ones. Fullerenes are sparingly soluble in many solvents but in aromatics, such as toluene, and others like carbon disulfide fullerenes are soluble.

Buckminsterfullerene is the smallest fullerene molecule containing pentagonal and hexagonal rings in which no two pentagons share an edge. It is also the most common in terms of natural occurrence, as it can often be found in soot.

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