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Single-wall nanotubes a new option for conductive plastics and engineering polymers

SpecialChem / Jun 6, 2003

In 1985, an unplanned experiment with a new kind of microscope resulted in the discovery of a new molecule made purely of carbon. Known as 'Buckyballs', these molecules comprise sixty carbon atoms arranged in a soccer ball shape[2]. However, what had been discovered was not just a single new molecule, but an infinite class of new molecules - the fullerenes. Each fullerene (for example, C60, C70 and C84) possesses the essential characteristic of being a pure carbon cage, with each atom being bonded to three others as in graphite. However, unlike graphite, every fullerene has exactly 12 pentagonal faces with a varying number of hexagonal faces (for example, 'buckyball' - C60 - has 20). Some fullerenes such as C60 are spheroids, while others such as C70 are oblong. Dr. Richard Smalley, one of the discoverers of fullerenes, recognized in 1990 that, in principle, a tubular fullerene should be possible. These are capped at each end, for example, by the two hemispheres of C60, connected by a straight segment of tube, with only hexagonal units in its structure.

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