Richard Smalley, professor of chemistry and physics at Rice University, Houston, and discoverer of "buckyball," has been selected by the American Physical Society to receive the 1991 Irving Langmuir Prize. The $10,000 award, which will be presented next month at the society's annual meeting, is given each year to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to chemical physics or physical chemistry within the past 10 years. APS gives the award in odd-numbered years, and the American Chemical Society presents it in even-numbered years.

Smalley pioneered the use of laser vaporization to generate atomic clusters. In 1985, he and his colleagues at Rice discovered a cluster composed of 60 atoms of carbon (H.W. Kroto, et al., Nature, 318:162-3, 1985). Unlike other atomic clusters, which apparently can grow indefinitely, this cluster was surprisingly stable. It was another week before Smalley hit upon the three-dimensional configuration that could explain the size...

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