Sunday, December 05, 2004

Power grid comprising fullerene nanotubes?

Dale Dempsey of the Dayton (OHIO) Daily News reported of a talk by Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley at the University of Dayton in November 2004:

-->Smalley would like to see the world's power grid rewired with long strands of Buckytubes.
"They conduct electricity with no energy loss whatsoever," Smalley said. "I think electric transmission is the destiny of this material and I want to make it happen."<--

Nanotubes of fullerenes are not superconducting, so there is energy loss associated with their electrical conductivity. Chemically modified buckyballs can superconduct at low temperature (eg, C60K3) but these compounds cannot easily be made into wires and they are quite reactive. The report of superconductivity in an oxidized fullerene (with bromoform, CHBr3) made by Jan-Hendrik Schon is open to question, in view of the fraudulent work of Schon; the corresponding patent application was withdrawn.

Dempsey also reported:

-->The tubes, which Smalley discovered in the early 1990s, are built with identical molecules that are shaped like soccer balls. They are sometimes called C60, for the number of atoms that make up the single-wall tubes. The name comes from the late Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome.<--

Smalley correctly identified the structure (and gave name to) buckminsterfullene, C60, in 1985. Workers at Exxon had made C60 (and published thereon) in 1984. The identity of the discoverer of fullerene nanotubes is open to question. It may be Iijima of NEC, but it is probably not Professor Smalley. Nanotubes are not C60 and are not shaped like a soccer ball.

The Dayton report is another example of poor reporting in the area of nanotechnology.


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