Scientists Prove Buckyball Cages Don’t Let Anyone Out

Recommended Videos

Ever since their discovery in 1985, buckyballs have had scientists wondering exactly how they form and continue to grow. The difference between knowing how to make buckminsterfullerene, as it is called scientifically, and how it grows is a major one. We collectively know of a couple different ways to create buckyballs and that they occur in nature as well. Now, a group from Florida State University and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have shown that as buckyballs grow, they don’t open up their molecular cages.

The scientists involved created an experiment where they shot a laser at a paste of buckyballs mixed with carbon and helium. They had expected that the experiment would cause the buckyballs to break down. Contrary to expectations, they instead incorporated the extra carbon from the surrounding gas and grew without the cage opening up. Paul Dunk, doctoral student at Florida State University and lead author of the study, notes that it was the heavy metal atoms involved that proved they hadn’t opened:

If the cages grew by splitting open, we would have lost the metal atoms, but they always stayed locked inside[.]

Understanding how buckyballs, or fullerenes, grow and propagate is important because it appears that they’re a lot more common than we previously expected. Recent reports from NASA show that crystals of the stuff are in orbit around distant stars. Figuring out how they got there, how they grew, and other any other factors provides better insight into the process that carbon goes through to assemble itself.

(via Phys.org, image credit via Wikimedia)

Relevant to your interests


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article What Caused the Weekend’s Major Aurora Borealis Phenomenon?
Aurora Borealis over a farmhouse.
Read Article Entomologist Brought to Tears in Response to Her Positive Book Reviews
Dr. Megan Wilkerson book: A to Z Bug Facts Coloring Book: Explore 28 Insects With 60+ Unique Facts
Read Article Important Science Alert! NASA Just Sent a Cat Video From Space!
An orange cat chases a laser on a couch with technical graphics superimposed on the image.
Read Article Scientists Make Major Breakthrough in Treating Morning Sickness
A young pregnant woman of African decent sits on a sofa in the comfort of her own home as she cradles her belly with her hands. She is dressed casually as she looks down at her belly with anticipation.
Read Article Guess What? We’re Bringing the Dodo Back!
The dodo from the animated Alice in Wonderland, smoking a pipe.
Related Content
Read Article What Caused the Weekend’s Major Aurora Borealis Phenomenon?
Aurora Borealis over a farmhouse.
Read Article Entomologist Brought to Tears in Response to Her Positive Book Reviews
Dr. Megan Wilkerson book: A to Z Bug Facts Coloring Book: Explore 28 Insects With 60+ Unique Facts
Read Article Important Science Alert! NASA Just Sent a Cat Video From Space!
An orange cat chases a laser on a couch with technical graphics superimposed on the image.
Read Article Scientists Make Major Breakthrough in Treating Morning Sickness
A young pregnant woman of African decent sits on a sofa in the comfort of her own home as she cradles her belly with her hands. She is dressed casually as she looks down at her belly with anticipation.
Read Article Guess What? We’re Bringing the Dodo Back!
The dodo from the animated Alice in Wonderland, smoking a pipe.