Bucky returns, in paper form

Only in America can a man with the mental prowess to discover what was to be only the third form of pure-carbon molecule known to man, also lack the creativity to come up with a better name than buckminsterfullerene or “buckyballs”. Well, Harry Kroto might have been British but he and his team made the discovery here in America while conducting research at Rice University. That’s right, it’s all coming back to you from science class in elementary school. Kroto and his team went on to win a Nobel Prize for their discovery; an award that may very well be in the cards for the team behind what will likely become one of the biggest manufacturing breakthroughs of our time – buckypaper. The name isn’t getting any less ridiculous of course, but the implications are pretty intense. Imagine the possibilities: A material that is 10 times lighter than steel but potentially 500 times stronger. What’s more, buckypaper conducts electricity like copper or silicon and disperses heat like brass. Wade Adams, a Rice University Scientist, calls it the Holy Grail of nanotechnology and we can’t say we disagree. Buckypaper is comprised of cylindrical carbon molecules about 50,000 times thinner than a human hair and has enormous potential in the manufacturing processes of aircraft, automobiles, computers, consumer electronics and beyond. Of course for the time being, buckypaper research at Florida State University is being funded in part by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control so where know exactly where this technology will likely be first applied. Duh. For the time being, buckpaper is far to difficult and expensive to manufacture on a large scale but such is the story in the early stages of any similar breakthrough. Look for buckypaper to make a serious impact in the future as its uses trickle down from inevitable military applications to more wide-spread technologies.

[Via Giz]

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