Sir Harold Kroto, who shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996, will give a lecture entitled “Carbon in Nano and Outer Space” in room 101 of the Nicholson Communications Building on the Orlando campus. The talk is free and open to the public.

Kroto and scientists Richard Smalley and Robert Curl were awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering C60, also known as buckminsterfullerene or buckyballs, a form of carbon known to man other than graphite and diamond.

C60 was discovered when the team attempted to simulate atmospheric conditions found in cool red giant carbon stars. They hoped to prove that carbon chains could exist in the space between stars. They succeeded and discovered the existence of a whole new form of carbon. The team’s initial findings were later confirmed by data obtained with NASA’s Spitzer Satellite Telescope.

The discovery of C60 (which resembles a soccer ball) and its unique properties prompted new investigations that eventually led to the birth of nanoscience and nanotechnology and new advances in materials engineering – the field responsible for creating new materials.

New materials, for example, provide a means for protecting spacecraft from heat generated upon re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. Other practical applications include new fabrics that keep soldiers cool in desert conditions and fabrics that wick sweat away from a runner’s body. Nanotechnology also offers great potential for new developments in medical diagnosis and treatment.

“You could say Dr. Kroto was instrumental in the launch of a whole new field of science that has us on the cusp of a whole new era of awe and discovery,” said UCF Chemistry Associate Professor Florencio Hernandez, who is helping coordinate Kroto’s visit to UCF.

After decades of teaching and conducting research at the University of Sussex in England, Kroto took the position of Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry at Florida State University in 2004, where he continues his research in nanotechnology.

Kroto’s lecture is part of the UCF Chemistry Department’s Distinguished Speakers Series, which is sponsored by the Office of Research and Commercialization, the College of Graduate Studies, College of Sciences, Burnett Honors College, and the Department of Chemistry.

For more information about this event, contact Hernandez at