Posted in | Fullerenes

Super Large Molecule to Adorn Building

The Bristol skyline now has an exciting addition of a large-scale representation of a carbon molecule installed on the new Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information in the heart of the University’s precinct.

The molecule is known as a buckyball as it resembles a geodesic sphere, a structure made popular in the 1940s by American designer Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller.

The Bristol buckyball measures about 4 metres in diameter and will be located on the roof of the building, looking down on Tyndall Avenue.

Buckyballs (also known as fullerenes) were discovered in 1985.  They are molecules composed entirely of carbon in the form of a hollow sphere.  They are similar in structure to graphite which is composed of a sheet of linked hexagonal rings.  However, buckyballs also contain pentagonal (or sometimes heptagonal) rings that cause them to curve into their well-known ball shapes.

The installation of the buckyball is part of the ongoing construction of the £11 million Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information which is due to be complete by Spring 2008.  The Centre will contain some of the ‘quietest’ labs in the world, with extremely low levels of vibrational and acoustic noise, and stringent controls on temperature and air movement.

A distinctive characteristic of the Centre will be its interdisciplinarity, bringing together biologists, chemists, computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians and physicists, amongst others.

As well as addressing deep questions in fundamental science, the research to be carried out in the building will offer opportunities for the development of future computing, communications and health technologies, as well as advanced materials, for example for the aerospace industry.

The Centre for Nanoscience and Quantum Information, built by Willmott Dixon Construction, is a four-storey concrete-framed structure located on Tyndall Avenue.  Contained within the new structure will be a variety of highly specialised laboratories, together with seminar rooms, offices, clean rooms and, most importantly, interaction spaces.

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