Research Highlights

doi:10.1038/nindia.2017.81 Published online 12 July 2017

Sugar buckyballs

Chemists at the University of Lucknow have developed a cheap method to produce fullerene – the hollow carbon molecule also known as buckyball – composed of 60 atoms of carbon (C60). The method eliminates the need for expensive graphite or coke in making buckyballs, which are finding use in electronics, solar energy, ballistic missiles and medicines

Buckyballs are expensive to make – around $25-100 per gram – due to the costly raw materials graphite or coke at very high tempertures. The Lucknow chemists have found a way to turn sugars into fullerene without using these raw materials. They were inspired to synthesize C60 in the laboratory by the discovery of sugar (carbon compound) in space.

"A distinct advantage of our process is the use of significantly low temperature (400 degrees C) to produce macroscopic amount of fullerenes from the most common sugars," they report. They have coined a new term "sugarenes” to acknowledge the potential importance of sugars in the production of fullerenes.

When they examined the material produced in the laboratory under infra-red spectroscopy, they found it to be “of comparable quality" to that produced using the current state-of-the-art methods. The researchers say this cost-effective process is scalable for commercial production.


References

1. Singh, K. & Deep, A. Sweet way to produce fullerenes. J. Sci. Ind. Res. India 76, 347-350 (2017)