12 June 2006

Harry Kroto unveils unique giant Buckyball sculpture

Photo: Professor Sir Harry Kroto with 'Giant Buckyball'

Nobel Prize winning alumnus Professor Sir Harold Kroto is pictured unveiling the world's first 'Giant Buckyball' sculpture outside the Kroto Research Institute at the University on Wednesday 7 June 2006.

Inspired by nanoscience and nanotechnology, the sculpture has been scaled up so that one metre of the sculpture represents one nanometre in the molecular world. The sculpture, which is one thousand million times larger than the molecule itself, is a physical representation of a pure carbon cage Fullerene (often referred to as Buckyballs). Each of the 240 carbon atoms is represented by a stainless steel ball, all of which are connected by a geometric network of black rods, representing the electrons of the chemical bonds that link the carbon atoms together.

Harry Kroto, who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of this new form of carbon, explains: "As well as being visually attractive the sculpture illustrates some key scientific features of Fullerenes - which children love to call Buckyballs. These unique structures have the potential to radically improve the tensile strength and electronic properties of materials, promising new strategies for sustainable energy-saving technologies ranging from transportation to solar electricity production.

Photo: 'Giant Buckyball'

"Today, the sculpture stands outside the Kroto Research Institute as a fitting emblem, highlighting the importance of the nanoscience and nanotechnology research being undertaken in the Institute and the exciting promise of these cutting-edge research areas for combating the major socio-economic and humanitarian issues, such as environmental remediation, remedial medicine and advanced materials that now confront us."

The Buckyball sculpture is co-sponsored by an alumnus of the University of Sheffield, a surgeon and entrepreneur, and his wife: Dr Jack and Annetta Horwitz Kushner from Annapolis, Maryland USA.