Section I


  1. Rationale

    Buckyball was named "Molecule of the Year" for 1991 by Science magazine. In the December 20, 1991, issue of Science, the Editors made the following observations: "Fullerene science exhibits the classic profile of a major scientific breakthrough. Buckyballs were found by accident by researchers asking a completely different question. Then they were steadily explored - until they became widely available and the field exploded. Now, buckyball scientists are enjoying the exponential phase, in which almost everything is new and the unexpected is the expected. Eventually, the action will focus on a few promising research veins and the practical applications will bloom" (Koshland, Jr., 1991).

    Since 1991, the pace of discovery in fullerene science has continued to accelerate. Researchers around the world are exploring both the basic science and potential applications of fullerenes. And the field has spawned important new areas of exploration, including carbon nanotubes and nanowires. In 1996, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the co-discoverers of C, Richard Smalley, Robert Curl and Harry Kroto.

    One goal of this module is to give students a feeling for how science is actually done and a taste of the excitement of scientific discovery. We believe that fullerene science provides an ideal vehicle for communicating that excitement; it is timely, rapidly-evolving, multidisciplinary, and even appealing on an aesthetic level.


  2. Audience

    The module is intended for students in freshman-level general chemistry. It requires some prior knowledge of chemical bonding, particularly the types of bonding exhibited by carbon.


  3. Core Concepts

    Among the chemical concepts introduced in this module are: molecular structure, symmetry, resonance, delocalization, solid-state structure, electronic structure, modern spectroscopy (MS, IR, UV, NMR, Single Crystal X-ray Diffraction), chromatography, chemical reactivity, and synthesis. Although some "background material" is provided in the module, a supplementary text is recommended. Particularly important is supplementary material on the spectroscopic techniques.


  4. Learning Strategies

    One key feature of the module is hands-on model building. Each student will have access to a set of Cochrane's Molecular Models (sp carbon centers and bonds), which will allow them to build C and C and to explore other isomeric possibilities. A second key feature of the module is the use of original literature. Important papers will be made available to the students and these will form the basis for lectures and class discussions.


  5. Materials to be Ordered

    One set of Cochrane's Molecular Models should be ordered for each student. The required items, available through Aldrich Chemical Co., P.O. Box 2060, Milwaukee, WI 53201, are:

    Z12, 725-6100 sp atom centers $8.60
    Z18, 463-2 800 minit-size green bond tubes
    (each 2.5 cm long)

    Several students could split the set of 800 bond tubes.


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