Sir Harold Kroto (1998) - C60-Buckminsterfullerene: Not just a Pretty Molecule

Sir Harold Kroto (1998)

C60-Buckminsterfullerene: Not just a Pretty Molecule

Sir Harold Kroto (1998)

C60-Buckminsterfullerene: Not just a Pretty Molecule

Comment

Amongst the Nobel Laureates lecturing in Lindau, Sir Harold Kroto would probably earn the award for the most unusual and characteristic way of presenting. This lecture, which is the first he ever gave in Lindau, is no exception. Kroto`s way of presenting relies on a quick succession of, sometimes loosely connected, images, which are, in a most creative fashion, gathered from the spheres of history, arts, science, society etc. This brings about a relaxed and - at the same time - enriched and intense atmosphere, which is usually highly appreciated by the Lindau audiences.Unfortunately, there is no video available for this particular lecture and thus a great deal of the unique “Harry Kroto spirit” is lost. Still, the lecture is special, because it is not only the first Lindau lecture Kroto gave after receiving the Nobel Prize, but also the last he gave so far (2012) on the subject of his Nobel Prize research. In later years, Kroto gave preference to more general subjects such as creativity or science, society and sustainability. Kroto and his co-recipients Robert F. Curl Jr. and Richard F. Smalley shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry "for their discovery of fullerenes". Fullerenes are ball-shaped molecules built exclusively from carbon. The most famous fullerene, the Buckminster fullerene (sometimes also referred to as C60), contains 60 carbon atoms and looks pretty much like a football. The fullerenes were so exciting to the scientific community (and the Nobel Committee) because they represented a new modification of carbon, which is distinctly different to the well-known graphite and diamond modifications. Due to the fundamental importance of carbon in almost all processes of life as well as in materials science, it could be expected that the advent of the fullerenes would entail a horn of plenty of potential technical applications. This excitement was stimulated further, when traces of fullerenes were detected in space.However, as far as we know today, the enthusiasm was probably excessive. More than 25 years after the discovery of fullerenes, there are still no major technical applications, or, as Robert Curl put it in his 1998 Lindau talk: the discoverers are still waiting for their kid to get a job. Today, new carbon modifications, such as carbon nanotubes and graphene (Nobel Prize in Physics 2010), which might well be considered advancements of fullerene research, have taken over the role of hope bearers in the field of carbon-only materials. In the present talk, Kroto uses his characteristic presentation style to blend historical snippets with details on his own scientific background, anecdotes on fullerene research as well as some brief notes on the fullerenes’ chemical properties. The breadth of his point of view might be estimated from two of the quotes he uses. The first one, given in a rather ironic context, is attributed to the Greek philosopher Plato, 360 BC:“In the first place it is clear to everyone that fire, earth, water and air are bodies and all bodies are solids and all solids again are bounded by surfaces and all rectiliniar surfaces are composed of triangles.”The second one comes straight from a Lord of the Rings bumper sticker and is used by Kroto to make an argument in favour of fundamental science:“Not all those who wander are lost.”The author of this comment could not agree more.David Siegel

Rate this content

 (<5 ratings)

Cite


Specify width: px

Share

Rate this content

 (<5 ratings)

Cite


Specify width: px

Share


Related Content