C60 molecule - made up of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons.C60 or carbon 60 occurs naturally on earth but it was discovered by a group of scientists back in the 1980's who were looking at the space between the stars.

These scientists, included Harry Kroto from the University of Sussex and Richard Smalley from Rice University, who received a Nobel Prize for their work.

C 60 has a remarkable structure with 60 carbon atoms bonded together to make a soccer ball shape.

The C60 molecule was given the name buckminsterfullerene in homage to Buckminster Fuller the American architect who designed buildings of the same structural form.

How is C60 made?

There are a number of ways to make carbon 60 but the most common, vaporizes graphite rods in an inert atmosphere like helium and as the carbon atoms cool and condense they can form stable structures which includes carbon C60. 

What is C60 fullerene?

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Carbon 60 is the best known fullerene but there are many other cage-like carbon molecules, these include; C70, C72, C76, C84 and even one with over 100 carbon atoms.

These molecules have been given the collective name of carbon fullerenes, which has been shortened to fullerenes but are often also referred to as 'buckyballs'.

In addition to ball and ellipsoid shaped fullerenes they also form tubes and many other shapes and sizes.

What is C60 used for?

Once C60 could be produced in larger quantities, its physical and chemical properties meant it was used in applications from car tires, printing inks and semiconductors. As its general use became more common, the EU commissioned a study to understand whether C60 was safe to use. It was during this EU commissioned study, in a laboratory in Paris by Baati et al, that the remarkable health properties of carbon C60 were discovered.