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Buckyball Emits White Light for First Time
Jun 1999
LOS ANGELES, California, June 3 -- University of California researchers report that they have observed the first known example of white light being given off from a device made of a buckyball derivative. Their findings are described in a communication to the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The UC scientists added attachments to buckyballs--clusters of sixty carbon atoms bound together in the shape of soccer balls--which modify their electronic structure and allow them to emit light.
UCLA chemist and study co-author Fred Wudl views the new device as an academic curiosity, because normally buckyballs quench luminescence very effectively and here it actually gives off light. Practically speaking, the device's efficiency is extremely low--only a fraction of a percent of electric power supplied is converted to light--and buckyballs are currently relatively expensive. The UCLA chemist who first created the buckyball device, co-author Yves Rubin, Ph.D., still speculates, Such white light devices might ultimately be used to illuminate rooms by covering a ceiling or wall with the material. At the moment, however, it would appear that companies working on simpler organic materials have a big head start on such applications, cautions Wudl. In addition to Wudl and Rubin, other co-authors on the paper were Kate Hutchison, Ph.D. and June Gao, Ph.D. of UC - Santa Barbara, and Georg Schick, Ph.D., of UCLA.

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