- Smalley, Richard E.
▪ American chemist and physicistin full Richard Errett Smalleyborn June 6, 1943, Akron, Ohio, U.S.died October 28, 2005, Houston, TexasAmerican chemist and physicist, who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Robert F. Curl, Jr. (Curl, Robert F., Jr.), and Sir Harold W. Kroto (Kroto, Sir Harold W.) for their joint discovery of carbon60 (C60, or buckminsterfullerene, or buckyball) and the fullerenes.Smalley received a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1973. After postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago, he began his teaching career at Rice University (Houston, Texas) in 1976. He was named Gene and Norman Hackerman professor of chemistry there in 1982 and became a professor of physics in 1990.It was at Rice University that Smalley and his colleagues discovered fullerenes (fullerene), the third known form of pure carbon (diamond and graphite are the other two known forms). The atoms of fullerenes are arranged in a closed shell. Carbon60, the smallest stable fullerene molecule, consists of 60 carbon atoms that fit together to form a cage, with the bonds resembling the pattern of seams on a soccer ball. The molecule was given the name buckminsterfullerene because its shape is similar to the geodesic domes designed by the American architect and theorist R. Buckminster Fuller (Fuller, R Buckminster). A leading supporter of nanotechnology, Smalley played a key role in the establishment in 2000 of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, a federal research and development program.
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