Carbon fullerenes (also termed C60, Buckminsterfullerene, or buckyballs) [...] describe 60 linked carbon atoms in a highly stable icosahedron, consisting of 60 vertices and 32 (12 pentagonal and 20 hexagonal) faces. Consequently, carbon fullerenes have a spherical cage-like structure and have a diameter of about 1 nm and thus can be defined as a nanomaterial. Fullerene production can occur naturally as they can be released from combustion processes such as forest fires. Alternatively, there has been an increase in the intentional production of fullerenes due to the realization that novel exploitable properties are exhibited by materials that contain “nano” dimensions (< 100 nm), and as a result, the use of C60 is being considered for drug delivery and recently within a number of cosmetic products, such as face creams. Fullerenes therefore conform to the definition of a nanomaterial, whereby they contain a dimension of less than 100 nm, which gives rise to unique novel properties to enable their exploitation within numerous applications.
Aschberger K, Johnston HJ, Stone V, Aitken RJ, Tran CL, Hankin SM, Peters SAK, Christensen FM, 2010. Review of fullerene toxicity and exposure – a human health risk assessment appraisal based on open literature. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 58(3):455-473. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yrtph.2010.08.017
Buckminsterfullerene is a spherical molecule with the formula C60. It was first prepared in 1985 by Harold Kroto, James Heath, Sean O'Brien, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley at Rice University. Kroto, Curl, and Smalley were awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their roles in the discovery of buckminsterfullerene and the related class of molecules, the fullerenes. The name is an homage to Richard Buckminster Fuller, whose geodesic domes it resembles. Buckminsterfullerene was the first fullerene molecule discovered and it is also the most common in terms of natural occurrence, as it can be found in small quantities in soot.