The American Chemical Society has presented Rice University the Citation for Chemical Breakthroughs Award in recognition of the discovery of carbon 60, or the buckyball, at Rice in 1985. Buckyball co-discoverer Robert Curl accepted the award Aug. 21 at the ACS annual meeting in Philadelphia along with Matteo Pasquali, chair of the chemistry department.
ACS created the Citation for Chemical Breakthrough program in 2006 to recognize breakthroughs in chemistry that were “revolutionary in concept, broad in scope and long-term in impact.” The award includes a plaque to be placed in the Space Science Building near the laboratory where C60 was discovered.
The buckyball discovery was recognized with the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry, which Curl shared with Rice’s Richard Smalley and the University of Sussex’s Harold Kroto.
“Rice University has much to be proud of, including the breakthrough publication in 1985 by Kroto, (James) Heath, (Sean) O’Brien, Curl and Smalley entitled ‘Buckminsterfullerene,'” said Gary Patterson, professor of chemical physics and polymer science at Carnegie Mellon University and chair of the ACS history division. “That paper changed the face of chemistry forever. Their work, performed at Rice, is rightfully credited as seminal in many areas of science and technology, including in nanotechnology, materials science and electronics. It is for this singular achievement that the Citation for Chemical Breakthrough Award was presented to Rice University.”
The award was presented at a symposium hosted by ACS President Donna Nelson and accepted on Rice’s behalf by Curl, Pasquali and Rice alumnus Robert Cargill Jr. ’55. Curl is University Professor Emeritus and the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences. Pasquali is professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, chemistry and materials science and nanoengineering.