Nobel Prize Winner to Speak at Colorado State University Jan. 28

Richard Smalley, 1996 winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery of a new molecular form for carbon, will speak at Colorado State University Jan. 28.

Smalley, a chemistry professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas, will discuss his research and how the discovery of these carbon molecules could serve as a catalyst for the development of new and stronger materials.

Smalley’s presentation begins at 4 p.m. in Room A-103 Chemistry Building at Colorado State. The event, sponsored by the chemistry department, College of Natural Sciences and the Vice President for Research and Information Technology, is free and open to the public.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded Smalley and his colleagues–Professor Harold Kroto from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and Robert Curl Jr., also a professor at Rice University–the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their discovery of C60, a structure of 60 carbon atoms tightly bound in the form of a soccer ball. Upon discovering this new form of carbon, the team characterized and confirmed their initial identification using a series of other laboratory experiments.

Previously, only six crystalline forms of the element carbon were known. The team’s discovery of C60 and its symmetrical shape surprised many physicists and chemists, because popular theory held that all symmetrical forms of carbon had already been identified. Today, a whole new area of chemistry focuses on C60 and its potential use in new catalysts and materials, including electrical conductors.

Smalley’s visit to Colorado State is of particular interest to chemistry Professor Elliot Bernstein, who served as Smalley’s graduate advisor when he was a professor at Princeton University in the early 1970s. As a graduate student, Smalley worked with Bernstein on the properties of molecular crystals, energy transfer in crystals and crystal behavior.