Gene and Norman Hackerman professer of chemistry and professor of physics,
Rice University, Houston.
Richard Smalley believes that "science is a crucial enterprise, not just to keep us economically competitive with other nations but, more important, to develop practical solutions to the dilemmas facing society." In his Rice University laboratory, Smalley developed a new technology-- supersonic cluster beams -- that enables a more detailed understanding of polyatomic structures. This technology provided an unprecedented look at the structure and character of chemical bonds in larger molecules.
This research also led to the discovery of C60, the third elemental form of carbon in addition to diamond and graphite, in 1985. A soccer-ball-shaped molecule, C60 is known as buckminsterfullerene, or "buckyball," because its structure resembles the geodesic domes made famous by R. Buckminster Fuller. Smalley is currently concentrating on producing continuous carbon fibers, which essentially are giant single fullerene molecules....