The Discovery of C60


Personal memories of the events surrounding the discovery of C60
The Discovery of C60  – a Day by Day Account
Nobel Lecture

kroto-lecture Nobel PDF



The molecule was discovered on 4 September 1985 during a short, exciting 10-day period of research carried out at Rice University.

C60 4th Sept Original Printout

This is my original printout with my comments written on the scan before we knew what the structure of C60 might be.

The discovery paper is:

Nature 318, 162 – 163 (14 November 1985); doi:10.1038/318162a0

Capture C60 Nature abstract

C60 Nature paper 318162a0

The fascinatingly positive and enthusiastic referees reports


 The Naming of C60 as Buckminsterfullerene

Buckminster Fuller Dome Expo67 Montreal

As Rick Smalley says in this interview, he did not at first like the name I had coined for C60 i.e. Buckminsterfullerene, but he changed his mind later!

“Smalley said that he had overcome any initial reservations he might have had to Kroto’s proposal to name C60 buckminsterfullerene”

Applewhite Chemical Intelligencer

Alex Nickon who with Silversmith was writing a book on named compounds contacted me by phone and during the discussion we concluded that Fullerenes should be the name of the new family of cage compounds cf pages below:

Nickon 1

Nickon 2+3 Nickon 4

Accounts of the C60 Discovery

Image52 nobel2

   with Rick in Santa Barbara                with Bob at a school in Houston

There were three outstanding students involved in the discovery experiments

Jim Heath and Sean O'BrienYuanLiu_169x232

          Jim Heath and Sean O’Brien                                          Yuan Liu


                                      The Rice Sussex Team


                                       Jim Heath next to Ap2


The O’Brien Family

Miscellaneous Articles


Jim Heath and Sean O’Brien

Yuan Liu