Skip navigation
E. Buckyball, Anyone?

Narrator: This is Science Today. A buckyball is a soccer ball-shaped molecule made up of sixty carbon atoms that are arranged in a series of interlocking hexagons and pentagons. Mike Crommie, a staff scientist in the Material Science Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, says there's a whole class of molecules that have similar kinds of shapes.

Crommie: People often refer to them as Fullerenes and there are other related molecules called nanotubes. They were discovered within the last twenty years and people are very interested in them because they're very flexible, we can create new kinds of structures with them and they have very interesting electronic and even magnetic properties that allow us to create new kinds of materials that did not exist before.

Narrator: Crommie is particularly interested in the buckyballs because one can change their electronic properties.

Crommie: Why would one even be interested in these molecular structures in the first place? Because in some sense, what we're doing is we're understanding how they behave and how we can change them and control them with an eye toward future applications.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.