Buckminsterfullerene Stamp Released by UK’s Royal Mail - News Item

The UK’S Royal Mail has released a set of stamps to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize. The 19p second-class stamp will feature a heat sensitive image of the buckminsterfullerene C60 molecule, a ballshaped form of the element carbon, discovered by Sussex scientist and Institute of Nanotechnology director Professor Sir Harry Kroto in 1985 and known as the “buckyball”.

All of the six printing processes for the stamps have been used separately on stamps before. What makes the Nobel Prizes collection unique is that it combines all six in one Special Stamp issue for the first time ever with some processes used for the first time on UK Stamps.

Thermochromic (2nd Class) - Thermochromic, or heat-reactive inks are a relatively new innovation, disappearing or changing colour rapidly when exposed to temperatures above their set level. When the ink is warmed for a few seconds the colour will disappear and as the ink cools the colour returns.

Intaglio (1st Class) - The very first postage stamps were produced by the intaglio printing process. The heavy film of ink applied to the paper under great pressure gives the ink a texture which is apparent to the touch.

Embossing (E) - Embossed images are achieved by compressing paper between a male and female die to deform the paper and leave an image in relief on the surface.

Scented (40p) - This is the first time that scented ink has been used on British postage stamps. The ink works by encapsulating scent within micro bubbles held within the ink itself. As the ink surface is damaged by scratching, the bubbles burst and the scent is released.

Microprint (45p) - This feature, as with most of those appearing on the Nobel Prizes stamps, is primarily a security device. The text is not legible to the naked eye and can be hidden within a design. The text is fully readable when viewed under a magnifier.

Hologram (65p) - This is the first time a hologram stamp has been used on a British stamp. A hologram is a clever method of 3-dimensional photography, which gives true 3-dimensional images on a flat piece of film. If you move your head then the image changes and moves so that you can see around the 3-dimensional image.

Posted October 2001

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