Basic Information
Abstract Number: 890-5    
Author Name: Harold Kroto Affiliation: Florida State University
Session Title: Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award - WEBCASTING
Event Type: Award
Event Title: Chemistry in Nano and Outer Space
Presider(s): Jackovitz, John Start Time: 10:45 AM ( Slot # 8 )
Date: Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 Location: 300
Keywords: Infrared and Raman, Ion Cyclotron Resonance, Laser Desorption, Molecular Spectroscopy

Abstract Content
The age-old awe that man has had for the heavens has driven almost all aspects of human culture and knowledge and resulted in many useful technologies. One surprise was the fact that Space - between stars - was not empty; indeed interstellar space was found to contain numerous atoms, molecules and dust particles. Radioastronomy has shown that the interstellar medium is a veritable Pandora's Box, full of fascinating and exotic molecules, dust particles. One particular set of observations made in the optical region of the spectrum has presented a puzzle for scientists for nearly a century and this is the carrier of the so-called Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs). Particularly fascinating has been the role that carbon has played in almost every aspect of the development of our understanding of both the physical and natural sciences. A recent surprise that the element had up its sleeve was the existence of C60, Buckminsterfullerene, the third well-defined form of carbon. The possibility that C60 and derivatives exist in space was suggested by the fact that the original discovery was made serendipitously during laboratory experiments designed to simulate the atmospheric conditions in cool red giant carbon stars. This conjecture has just been confirmed by NASA’s Spitzer satellite telescope and suggests that C60 and derivatives may be responsible for some of the DIBs. In fact we now know that the molecule forms fleetingly within sooting flames but seems to be immediately destroyed by fast aggregation reactions and/or as it passes through the flame barrier into an oxygen containing atmosphere. This is yet another example of the remarkably synergistic relationship between terrestrial and space science. In these difficult times it lends useful support for the fundamental value of "Blue Skies" or perhaps more accurately “Black Skies” cross-disciplinary research.