Soon after we discovered C60 we wrote a paper about the possibility that the mechanism which produced this carbon cage might also be involved in soot formation.   Although we know more about the mechanism now than we did 30 years ago I note that the title says… With possible relevance to soot formation:

Now there are many mechanisms which have been proposed for soot formation and we did not, at least in my memory, claim that ours was the only one. However it did lead to a controversy with some members of the soot community because perhaps they felt we were treading on their toes and did not know what we were talking about:

Baum Soot PDF

Below is an extract from this paper by Tesner which influenced my thinking very strongly on soot formation. This paper pointed out new data on soot structure from electron microscope studies which had shown that previous assumptions about structure of soot were not correct and was at variance with the consensus at the time.  Tesner Soot fs9730700104Soot

Capture Tesner


This led to the discovery of structures like this which were perfectly in line with the new electron microscope structures and also earlier carbon particle structures by Iijima

Onion 4 shell Simulation


See this paper

formation of quasi-icosahedral spiral shell carbon particles_1988 NATURE

However I should note that I personally used to present our model as only a small part of my overall presentation on our C 60 discovery. Furthermore I did go to see Homann in Darmstadt at some stage and point out that the C60 signal that he observed in his soot formation system was almost certainly buckminsterfullerene.  My memory was that he did not believe me and Silke Loeffler (one of his students at the time) after our structure was confirmed in 1990 emailed me to say “Oh you were right after all” which suggests that non of the group believed me.

Later on Howard showed that C60 could be made by combustion and Mitsubishi built a factory to make it commercially by the combustion of methane. I understand this facility is now owned by Showa Denko.

I think it is worth considering whatever mechanism produces C60 it may be involved at least to some extent in soot formation because:

a) as far as I can tell no combustion scientists detected C60 in their experiments prior to our discovery.

b) no mechanism that the combustion community proposed predicted that C60 would form in combustion

c) Mitsubishi scientists tell me that their combustion system produces a high percentage of C60 and no PAHs from methane!

d) C60 formation in combustion systems was only considered after our discovery:;2-L/abstract

The upshot of all this is that whatever the mechanism is that produces C60 by hydrocarbon combustion it should be considered as at least a possible contributor to soot formation and this was not done until after our proposal:

As Socrates said: It is a sign of intelligence to consider arguments with which you do not agree.

This paper 150815 Monte Carlo growth of graphene jp906541a reminds me of the famous quote by Max Planck

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers
…perhaps some sign of intelligence after all…. though the origins of the mechanism unreferenced!