Published: Feb 09, 2010
Category: Gifts and Gadgets
Ever wonder what Wall Street big shots buy when they’re in the mood for toys?
I live in the Manhattan neighborhood where the rich spend their winters. So, naturally, when our daughter came home with a gift from a friend, we spotted more of that gift in the window of Feldman’s, the chic housewares store on Madison Avenue. When I went inside, I learned how big this phenomenon is.
Buckyballs were discovered in 1985 — the product of an experiment on carbon molecules in space. However, it was not until 1991 that buckyball science came into its own. Just how do buckyballs manage their chemical and physical feats? In C60, hexagons and pentagons of carbon link together in a coordinated fashion to form a hollow, geodesic dome with bonding strains equdistributed among 60 carbon atoms. Some of the electrons are delocalized over the entire molecule — a feature even more pronounced in that workhorse of organic chemistry, benzene. Benzene is flat and many of its derivatives also tend to stack in flatsheets. Spherical buckyballs literally add a new dimension to the chemistry of such aromatic compounds. Buckministerfullerine has been named the Molecule of the Year. In addition to opening up new fields in chemistry, C60 also shows interesting physical properties. It is resistant to shock and it has been suggested that as a lubricant, there is even evidence of superconductivity and it may provide the added ingredient that makes diamond films more practical.