Nobel laureate Richard Smalley dies

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Oct. 28, 2005 – Richard Smalley, the Nobel Prize-winning nanotechnology researcher who was also an ardent supporter of commercial nanotechnology development, died today of cancer. He was 62.

Smalley shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 with Robert Curl and Sir Harry Kroto for discovering the C60 molecule, a soccer ball-shaped form of carbon called buckminsterfullerene, or buckyballs.

Born June 6, 1943, Smalley studied at Hope College in Michigan and the University of Michigan before earning a Ph.D. in chemistry at Princeton University in 1973. He joined the faculty at Rice University in Houston in 1976 where he rose to become chair of the chemistry department as well as a professor in the physics department.

He was the founding director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice and was director of the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory.

More recently, his work turned to the commercial applications of carbon nanotubes, a form of carbon related to the buckyballs he was famous for co-discovering. He was a scientific adviser to biotech startup C Sixty, which is investigating the use of fullerenes for biopharmaceutical applications and was chairman of Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc., a company developing manufacturing methods for carbon nanotubes. Smalley received the Lifetime Achievement award from Small Times magazine in 2003.

– David Forman


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