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Shark Science

Nanotech Surprise: Shooting Lasers at Buckyballs Makes Them Bigger 74

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-only-make-them-angry dept.
SchrodingerZ writes "Since 1985, scientists have been trying to determine how Buckyballs (scientifically named Buckminsterfullerene) are created. They are molecules with the formula C60 (a fullerene) that forms a hexagonal sphere of interlocking carbon atoms. 'But how these often highly symmetric, beautiful molecules with extremely fascinating properties form in the first place has been a mystery.' For over three decades the creation of these molecules have baffled the scientific community. Recently researchers at Florida State University, in cooperation with MagLab, have looked deeper into the creation process and determined their origin. It was already known the the process for buckyball creation was under highly energetic conditions over an instant, 'We started with a paste of pre-existing fullerene molecules mixed with carbon and helium, shot it with a laser, and instead of destroying the fullerenes we were surprised to find they'd actually grown.' The fullerenes were able to absorb and incorporate carbon from the surrounding gas. This study will help to illuminate the path towards carbon nanotechnology and extraterrestrial environmental studies, due to buckyball's abundance in extrasolar clouds."
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Nanotech Surprise: Shooting Lasers at Buckyballs Makes Them Bigger

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  • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @10:42AM (#40582035)

    While reading the first sentence, for one moment I thought it was going to end like this:

    Since 1985, scientists have been trying to determine how Buckyballs (scientifically named Buckminsterfullerene ) are useful.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is this science? What the heck is this? Why would I want to read factual or interesting issues!? Where did /. go!?

    We are the speculative baseless articles I can use to troll around!? Give them back!!!


    Kidding!!! Kidding!! Please please read this as a joke!!!!!
  • by turkeyfeathers (843622) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @11:15AM (#40582251)
    I knew mankind would find a solution for the so-called "global warming" problem. Since buckyballs absorb carbon when lasers are shot at them, all we need to do is sprinkle buckyballs into the ocean. Then it's just a matter of finding some fish or other marine animal to equip with laser beams to activate them, at which point all the excess carbon dioxide will be incorporated into the buckyballs. Voila! I'll be patenting this idea when my lawyer gets into his office on Monday morning.
    • by sphealey (2855)

      Well, we might want to read through the "potential for buckyballs to cause cancer" papers before we charge full-speed ahead on that one. Interdisciplinary thinking and all that.

      sPh

  • by slazzy (864185)
    I've got a dog toy that looks just like a Buckyball
  • Since 1985.... for over three decades... So when did I step through the temporal doorway? Last time I checked the calendar we still had a couple years before we can try to meet up with Marty McFly.
  • by excelsior_gr (969383) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @11:23AM (#40582309)

    Sorry, my post is slightly off-topic, but I found this remarkably interesting.

    Britannica: Blunt text, almost no pictures, broken into 5 pages, the last two of which are junk. Surrounded by links that claim to be "relevant" (the 3 links on some dudes that are probably working on the topic are, I would say, quite irrelevant if someone wants to learn more on fullerenes and the ones on "carbon" and "cluster" are way too elementary to be of any use) and massive header/footer with yet more junk links. No citations in the article, the "Bibliography" section only lets you submit a publication for consideration without providing any information on what has already been considered and their "Citations" section is about how to cite their own article!

    The Wikipedia article on the other hand, is on a single page, with lots of pictures, one of which is animated. There is a far more granular Table of Contents than in Britannica, with a discreet pane on "Nanomaterials" high up (offering elementary knowledge, even a "in popular culture" link) and a footer on "Allotropes of carbon" (offering more in-depth information). Translations in 30+ languages are to be found on the left. And there are 58 citations, a discussion page, 5 "further reading" links that are actually relevant and 10 or so external links, which can be directly translated into traffic that Wikipedia is generously streaming to 3rd party cites.

    I have taken Wikipedia for granted for so long. I am SO donating next time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why wait to donate to Wikipedia (actually, the Wikinedia Foundation)? You can give at any time, and don't need to wait for the annoying text at the head of every article (LOL). Although I'm retired, I've given $100/year for the past several years. It's given me at least a $100 in useful information each year. I've also contributed a few articles, although I'm not a fanatic about it; and I corrected a few errors and some kiddie vandalism.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You missed:

      The Britannica article was edited by David R.M. Walton (Emeritus Reader in Chemistry and Director, Fullerene Science Centre, University of Sussex, Brighton, England) and Harold W. Kroto (Professor of Chemistry, University of Sussex, Brighton, England. Winner of 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry - and specifically awarded it for his part in discovering fullerene i.e. the subject of the article).

      The Wikipedia article was edited by whoever happened to pop along at the time. Ideally those people will ha

      • by excelsior_gr (969383) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @12:56PM (#40583025)

        Yet the experts neglected putting up pictures showing e.g. how this material actually looks like, although, I am sure, their hard drives must be full of data. And I'm totally not interested in the soccer ball structure, this is the first thing you will see anywhere (just make a Google image-search). The Wikipedia article promptly displays a picture of C60 in crystalline form, a picture of C60 in solution and a SEM picture of fullerite. All pictures I can use in my own works, provided that I follow the instructions of their very permissive licenses. And if I want to be scientific about it, I can always follow the pictures back to the source and cite that directly. And don't even get me started on the Wikipedia article on "Buckminsterfullerene" which offers even more data, including CAS number, and material properties in the "infobox" that has its own citations (a lot of which are also found in my own bookmarks anyway). I'll take rich, traceable information over the dry words of some expert any day of the week.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Last month I attended a lecture by Sir H. Kroto. In that lecture he mentioned that Wikipedia actually has quite good information on the subject of fullerenes, and he added:"And on some occasions it is actually more correct than some of the textbooks". The context in which this was put, was one that he applauded the concept that wikipedia embodies.
        Just saying...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry, my post is slightly off-topic, but I found this remarkably interesting.

      Britannica: Blunt text, almost no pictures, broken into 5 pages, the last two of which are junk. Surrounded by links that claim to be "relevant" (the 3 links on some dudes that are probably working on the topic are, I would say, quite irrelevant if someone wants to learn more on fullerenes and the ones on "carbon" and "cluster" are way too elementary to be of any use) and massive header/footer with yet more junk links. No citations in the article, the "Bibliography" section only lets you submit a publication for consideration without providing any information on what has already been considered and their "Citations" section is about how to cite their own article!

      The Wikipedia article on the other hand, is on a single page, with lots of pictures, one of which is animated. There is a far more granular Table of Contents than in Britannica, with a discreet pane on "Nanomaterials" high up (offering elementary knowledge, even a "in popular culture" link) and a footer on "Allotropes of carbon" (offering more in-depth information). Translations in 30+ languages are to be found on the left. And there are 58 citations, a discussion page, 5 "further reading" links that are actually relevant and 10 or so external links, which can be directly translated into traffic that Wikipedia is generously streaming to 3rd party cites.

      I have taken Wikipedia for granted for so long. I am SO donating next time.

      What is the point of debating which has prettier content? You shouldn't rely on a single source and ESPECIALLY not wikipedia by itself. It doesn't matter if it's your first or second, or last stop, just don't make wikipedia your only stop PLEASE. It needs editors, not anonymous ones, and with intimate familiarity of the subject matter.

    • I just figured it would be more professional and credible not to cite Wikipedia. Just think about the Paul Revere story when Sarah Palin messed it up.
  • What if you keep shooting lasers at 'em will they keep growing? I'll find out, get me a laser and some of these buckyball things.

    When you have a laser, everything looks like a buckyball.

    • by mianne (965568)

      1) Go to your nearest big box retailer.
      2) Buy Soccer ball and a laser pointer.
      3) ????
      4) Profit!

    • by Spykk (823586)
      It sounds like you didn't heed the warning about your remaining eye...
  • by Anonymous Coward

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  • ... and Chinese (Simplified) http://translate.google.com/#auto [google.com]|zh-CN|Buckminsterfullerene and click the "Listen" button for some prepubescent humor...
  • by tmosley (996283) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @01:38PM (#40583325)
    If lasers make them grow, is there a limit? Can we control their growth such that they grow, say, into a cylinder? Or a bilayer sheet? If so, then can we do it in some other way than with lasers? Is it fast?

    This could revolutionize the production of ultra-useful carbon allotropes.
  • As they found out much to their pain and horror that it doesn't work as a penis enlarging technique.
  • "C60 (a fullerene ) that forms a hexagonal sphere of interlocking carbon atoms"

    But I thought Carbon was 12. So, if it's a hexagon, wouldn't it be C72?

  • Slightly OT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by argosian (905196) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @03:09PM (#40584101)
    "For over three decades the creation of these molecules have baffled the scientific community."

    Statements like this are rather disingenuous to the scientific community and fail to accurately depict the scientific process. Certainly there are a large number of "baffling" topics under investigation, but I wouldn't necessarily characterize the investigators as being "baffled". The overuse of this word in the context of science reporting seems to imply inept bumbling rather than the actual methodical (and occasionally inspired) process of scientific investigation (observe->hypothesize->predict->experiment->evaluate->refine). Certainly, many hypotheses are created, tested and found wanting for any number of reasons, but the very fact that an hypothesis has been falsified or found to be incomplete adds to our knowledge of what isn't so, and narrows the field of possible explanations.

    Certainly, some instances (such as the summary blurb above) can be explained away as laziness in reporting and the desire to reach the lowest common denominator. However, this popular media representation of "baffled" scientists is easily hijacked for the mis-characterization of inconvenient findings by politically, financially or ideologically motivated groups. Couple with the joyful glee with which young earth creationists, ufologists, ghost hunters, psi investigators, AGW denialists and other pseudo- or anti-science proponents claim that science is "baffled" by (or worse, suppressing) their various claims, it is no wonder that a frighteningly large number of people have little understanding of the scientific method, little trust in the scientific enterprise, little appreciation of the degree to which their lives have been improved by science and almost no concept of the time and effort required to move from an observation to a consistent theory to explain it or a practical application of a discovered principle. Scientific literacy seems to be trending sharply downward (at least here in the US, but probably many other countries as well), and the general population is less and less equipped for critically evaluating the endless stream of claims and counter-claims that appear in the marketplace of ideas. Perpetuating the baffled scientist meme is not particularly helpful in combating this trend.

    Granted, this article is a single example, and the case is rather benign, but I am increasingly dismayed by the inaccurate use of "baffled" in science reporting and felt I had to make my case. Perhaps a better statement would have been "The creation of these molecules has been a topic of intense investigation by the scientific community since their discovery in 1985"
  • Well, we now know what "living metal" the Robot was made out of in that old Tom Baker episode. They shot it with a laser, and it grew. Ergo, fullerenes.
  • by Trogre (513942) on Sunday July 08, 2012 @09:42PM (#40587231) Homepage

    Just let me be the first to say:
    Evil begets evil, Mr President.

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