Carbon 60, also called buckyball, is a tiny molecule that is comprised of 60 different carbon atoms arranged to form a sphere. These carbons are members of the fullerene family of carbon structures which can have different shapes aside from sphere including ellipsoids and tubes. The family fullerene is named after buckminsterfullerene, C60, which is the most famous member, is named after Buckminster Fuller.  

It was called buckyball because of their description of it as a cage-like spherical structure resembling a hollow soccer ball. Their geometry forms interconnected pentagons and hexagons. It was originally called as “buckminsterfullerene”, named after Fuller, and later was shortened into buckyball. 

Fullerenes, in general, had already been predicted for some time, but it was only in the year 1985 that is was detected in nature and the outer space. Its discovery has opened a lot of doors in the study and exploration of other known allotropes of carbon including the diamond, graphite, and amorphous carbon. Since then, a lot of research has been focusing on how to use the discovery in different applications in electronics and nanotechnology.  

The Discovery of C60 

The existence of the C60 was predicted as early as 1965 and was described by Sumio Iijima as a bucky onion. Iijima was a Japanese physicist and inventor of carbon nanotubes. 

Harold Kroto from the University of Sussex together with Sean O’Brien, James R. Heath, Richard Smalley from Rice University, and Robert Curl, discovered fullerenes in 1985. It was when they form a residue through vaporizing carbon in a helium atmosphere. The molecules were discovered to have a mass of sixty of seventy atoms of carbon, and thus name them carbon60 and carbon70, which was later called the buckyballs.  

Smalley, Kroto, and Curl were awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry after the discovery.  

Where can you find the Carbon 60? 

Some fullerenes like C60, C72, C76, C82, and C84 have reportedly found in soot, in minerals called shungite in Russia, in lightning discharges, and in the dust around the stars. 

Carbon60 specifically, is known for its amazing resilience and versatility, and therefore scientists believe that these molecules may have played a significant role in how the universe was formed.  

What makes Carbon 60 amazing? 

Buckyballs have properties that have been interesting to a lot of scientists and researchers. They are stable molecules and are difficult to dissolve in water. They can bounce, spin, and squeezed. These molecules can also withstand high temperature and is resistant to radioactivity and corrosion.  

Carbon 60 can be oxidized and are capable of accepting electrons from the other substance. They are a good superconductor and an electrical conductor. The potassium buckyballs have superconducting properties at -225 degrees Celsius.   


Carbon 60 is a good substance for solar cells because they are good at absorbing light from the sun.  

They are also ideal for making plastic because of their ability to bond with other substances 

They are used for lubrication and the creation of transistors, microscopic wires, and other electrical components.