One of the most influential elements we see around us is a carbon (C) with atomic number 6. Carbon is one of the elements which shows allotropy. The carbon allotropes can be either amorphous or crystalline. Carbon is one of the few elements to have several numbers of allotropic forms due to the ability to have variable oxidation states or coordination number.
Two well-known crystalline forms of carbon are diamond and graphite. The third type of carbon, recognized as fullerenes, was discovered in 1985 by H.W.Kroto, R.F.Curl and E.Smalley. They were awarded a Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1996.
What are Fullerenes?
Fullerenes are made in the presence of inert gases such as helium or argon by heating graphite in an electric arc. The sooty substance generated by condensation of vaporized Cn tiny molecules comprises mainly C60 with smaller amounts of C70 and traces of fullerenes. The purest form of carbon is fullerenes since they have a smooth structure without dangling bonds. Fullerenes are cage-like molecule. The molecule C60 has a soccer ball-like shape called Buckminsterfullerene.