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Fullerenes

The discovery of fullerenes in 1985 by Curl, Kroto, and Smalley10 culminated in their Nobel Prize in 1996. Fullerenes, or Buckminsterfullerenes, are named after Buckminster Fuller the architect and designer of the geodesic dome and are sometimes called bucky balls. The names derive from the basic shape that defines fullerenes; an elongated sphere of carbon atoms formed by interconnecting six-member rings and twelve isolated five-member rings forming hexagonal and pentagonal faces. The first isolated and characterized fullerene, C60, contains 20 hexagonal faces and 12 pentagonal faces just like a soccer ball and possesses perfect icosahedral symmetry.10

Fullerene chemistry continues to be an exciting field generating many articles with promising new applications every year. Magnetic nanoparticles (nanomagnetic materials) show great potential for high-density magnetic storage media. Recent work has shown that C60 dispersed into ferromagnetic materials such as iron, cobalt, or cobaltiron alloy can form thin films with promising magnetic properties.11,12 A number of organometallic-fullerene compounds have recently been synthesized. Of particular note are a ferrocene-like C60 derivative13 and pair of fullerenes bridged by a rhodium cluster.14 Some fullerene derivatives even exhibit superconducting character.15 There has been a report of a fullerene containing, superconducting field-effect device with a Tc as high as 117 K.16

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are hollow cylinders of carbon atoms. Their appearance is that of rolled tubes of graphite such that their walls are hexagonal carbon rings and are often formed in large bundles. The ends of CNTs are domed structures of six-membered rings capped by a five-membered ring. Generally speaking, there are two types of CNTs: single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWNTs). As their names imply, SWNTs consist of a single, cylindrical graphene layer, where as MWNTs consist of multiple graphene layers telescoped about one another.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were first isolated and characterized by Ijima in 1991.17 Since then dozens of research articles have been published, and new applications for CNTs have been proposed every year. The unique physical and chemical properties of CNTs, such as structural rigidity18 and flexibility continue to generate considerable interest. Additionally, CNTs are extremely strong, about 100 times stronger (stress resistant) than steel at one-sixth the weight. CNTs can also act as either conductors or semiconductors depending on their chirality,19-21 possess an intrinsic superconductivity,22 are ideal thermal conductors,23 and can also behave as field emitters.24