Fullerene is basically an allotrope of carbon. You might know that carbon can form allotrope due to its valence. Some of the other popular allotropes of carbon are diamond and graphite. Fullerene can take various shapes such as tube, sphere, ellipsoid and likewise. The spherical shape of Fullerene is referred to as Buckminster fullerene or simply Buckyball. The cylindrical form of fullerene is referred to as Buckytube. Fullerene is similar to graphite, and they are more like stacked graphite sheets with hexagonal ring links. Now that we know what is fullerene, we can move to the other aspects of fullerene.
Properties of Fullerene –
Fullerene has become popular in the last couple of decades. In fact, its potential medical uses were under study back in 2003. The molecules of fullerene can act as a conductor, semiconductor as well as a superconductor only under specific conditions. Fullerene can show the photochromic effect which means it can change its structure due to light transmitted through it based on the intensity of light.
Fullerene has the ability to form various compounds, and it readily absorbs free radicals and has the ability to retain other substances inside its molecules. However, fullerene is relatively inert and safe. These properties of fullerene make it available for various applications. Apart from these, fullerene is mostly known for its symmetry. It has three types of rotational axes.
Synthesis Of Fullerene –
There are various methods of producing fullerene on a commercial scale. But the arc discharge method is the most popular, and it is widely used in the industrial production of fullerene. It is technically referred to as pulse arc discharge method, and the method needs a heating furnace, quartz tube, carbon electrodes, water cooling trap, and high voltage pulsed power input. A buffer gas is passed through the quartz tube for the annealing process of the carbon cluster. There is a certain temperature range maintained, and the flow of the buffer gas and the pressure is consistently maintained.
After synthesis, extraction is done, and it is followed by purification or separation of each of the fullerene molecule so that the pure fullerene C60 comes out. Then the synthesis of derivatives takes place using organic synthesis technique, and there are various other post-processing processes that it goes through. Now that you know what is fullerene and how it is synthesized, it is time to move on to its applications.
Applications Of Fullerene –
Fullerenes find various applications on a commercial scale, and there are research studies going on to discover the deeper properties and make the best use of fullerene.
It is used in painting materials, cosmetology, solar cells, automotive industry, lubricants, powder metallurgy and likewise. In the medical field, it is popular for its antiviral property and antioxidant use. It is widely used for drug and gene delivery and as a photosensitizer. It also finds application in the protective eyewear products.