Robert Curl – discoverer of buckminsterfullerene

Robert Curl – discoverer of buckminsterfullerene

Robert Curl

Biography & Contributions

Robert Curl [Robert Floyd Curl, Jr.] is an American chemist and Nobel laureate born on August 23, 1933. He is best known for his discovery of nanomaterial buckminsterfullerene.

Curl's graduate research involved performing infrared spectroscopy to determine the bond angle of disiloxane. He used microwave spectroscopy to study the bond rotation barriers of molecules. Curl's early research involved the microwave spectroscopy of chlorine dioxide.

Other research programs of curl included both experiment and theory, mainly focused on detection and analysis of free radicals using microwave spectroscopy and tunable lasers. He used these observations to develop the theory of their fine structure and hyperfine structure, as well as information about their structure and the kinetics of their reactions.

Smalley and Curl was found an unexpected product that had 60 carbon atoms, and later by studies they determined its structure and named it buckminsterfullerene.

Curl's later research interests involved physical chemistry, developing DNA genotyping and sequencing instrumentation, and creating photoacoustic sensors for trace gasses using quantum cascade lasers.

Buckminsterfullerene Properties

Buckminsterfullerene is a spherical fullerene molecule with the formula C60. It has a cage-like fused-ring structure. It is made of twenty hexagons and twelve pentagons, with a carbon atom at each vertex of each polygon and a bond along each polygon edge. Buckminsterfullerene is one of the largest objects to have been shown to exhibit wave-particle duality.

Buckminsterfullerene was prepared by a solid rotating graphite disk was used as the surface from which carbon was vaporized using a laser beam creating hot plasma that was then passed through a stream of high-density helium gas. The carbon species were subsequently cooled and ionized resulting in the formation of clusters.

The structure of a buckminsterfullerene is a truncated icosahedron with 60 vertices and 32 faces (20 hexagons and 12 pentagons where no pentagons share a vertex) with a carbon atom at the vertices of each polygon and a bond along each polygon edge. Its average bond length is 0.14 nm.

Chlorine Dioxide

Chlorine Dioxide is one of several oxides of chlorine, and potent, useful oxidizing agent used in water treatment and in bleaching. Chlorine dioxide currently is the most important bleaching method worldwide.

It is produced with high efficiency by reducing sodium chlorate in a strong acid solution with a suitable reducing agent such as methanol, hydrogen peroxide, hydrochloric acid or sulfur dioxide.

Chlorine dioxide is used for bleaching of wood pulp and for the disinfection of municipal drinking water. Chlorine dioxide is used as an oxidant for phenol destruction in waste water streams and for odor control in the air scrubbers.

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