Amazing as it may sound, both Graphite (used in lead pencils) and diamonds are made of the same element, Carbon. They do not however, cost the same. Why?

They are both forms of elemental carbon, known as allotropes and the difference between them is their structure which helps to determine their very different properties.

In 1985 three Chemists discovered buckminsterfullerene, C60, a third allotrope of carbon.

It was a great discovery of a new, spherical allotrope. It was named buckminsterfullerene after an architect R. Buckminster Fuller who pioneered the use of geodesic domes in architecture. It is also commonly referred to as bucky balls due to their spherical, football like shape. Since the initial discovery in 1985 much more has been learnt about buckminsterfullerene and other fullerenes have been discovered but C60 is the most abundant.

Follow the links on the left to learn more about fullerene synthesis, its' properties, uses, future potential and the scientists behind the discovery.