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Fullerenes – a strategic invention of mankind


Fullerenes are a new allotropic form of carbon in the form of polyhedra. Fullerene was discovered by accident by astrophysicist Harold Kroto in 1985. This molecular form of carbon is spherical or close to spherical. Molecule C 60 is shaped like a soccer ball, and C 70 is shaped like a rugby ball.

In September 1985, Harold Kroto, Robert Curl, and Richard Smalley, while studying the mass spectra of graphite vapor, observed peaks corresponding to masses of 720,840 a.u. and presented a new formula for carbon, calling it fullerenes, after the American architect Buckminster Fuller, who uses the shape of a soccer ball in his building and architectural structures.

Fullerenes are formed in the process of evaporation of graphite and condensation of the resulting soot in an inert gas.

Scientists all over the world affirmatively declare that carbon is a strategic material of the future. The discovery of fullerenes is similar to the discovery of America by Columbus. In just a few years, this substance has gained a reputation as a major building block in organic chemistry. As a consequence, its study and application are so flourishing that chemists have come to regard its synthesis as a matter of course.

In the future, it is planned to use fullerene as a nanostructured material, such as metal-fullerene films deposited in vacuum.

Having studied the structural composition, chemical resistance in acidic and alkaline environments, scientists came to the conclusion that it is possible to use fullerene-containing materials in biomedicine for coating endoprostheses.

Fullerene is already widely used as a component in wound healing, anti-burn preparations and as a sorbent for chemical poisoning, as well as in cosmetology in protective agents against ultraviolet rays.

Japanese scientists have recently created a cure for cancer based on fullerenes. Our scientists are also working in this direction. In particular, actively and ahead of the West, a group of scientists from Kazan and Chernogolovka reported on the synthesis of new fullerene derivatives by pharmacophore groups, which gives hope to heal people from leukemia using substances containing fullerene.

The use of fullerene in medicine is very wide as components contained in food additives, antioxidants, cosmetic and prophylactic products, homeopathic preparations and other medicines.

Polymers obtained on the basis of fullerene are distinguished by high wear resistance, strength and, in addition, practically do not transmit waves and radiation of any nature.

Fullerenes are used for the synthesis of metals and alloys with new properties. They are beginning to be used as the basis for the production of batteries. Such batteries can be used to power personal computers and hearing aids.

There is another of the many uses of carbon molecules – additives in car oil. Such additives consist of 80% fullerenes, they are especially effective during engine operation, since they do not cause deformation of engine components due to their miniature size and allow replacing the process of friction of metals against each other with friction between diamond components, which facilitates the friction process several times. When added to engine oil, fullerene helps create an ideal oil film on engine parts, several times stronger than conventional oil, thus extending engine life.

Taking into account everything else that fullerene is an environmentally friendly material that does not emit harmful substances during its production and operation, the scope of application will only expand.

However, there are still few fullerene suppliers on the market at the moment. And on an industrial scale, it is produced only by a few enterprises abroad and in Ukraine.

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