Buckyballs are notable mainly as an example of a fundamentally new kind of molecule, although they may also have important applications, notably in drug delivery. Carbon nanotubes combine a suite of unusual properties—chemical, electronic, mechanical, optical and thermal—that have inspired a wide variety of innovative potential applications. Those innovations include materials that might replace silicon in microchips and fibers that might be woven into lightweight, ultrastrong cables. Although graphene itself—the mother of all graphitic forms—became part of such visions just a few years ago, it seems likely that the material will offer even more insights into basic physics and more intriguing technological applications than its carbonaceous cousins.
This article was originally published with the title Carbon Wonderland.