Richard Smalley

Nobel Laureate Richard E. Smalley received his B.S. in 1965 from the University of Michigan. After an intervening four-year period in industry as a research chemist with Shell, he earned his M.S. in 1971 from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in 1973. During a postdoctoral period with Lennard Wharton and Donald Levy at the University of Chicago, Smalley pioneered what has become one of the most powerful techniques in chemical physics: supersonic beam laser spectroscopy. After coming to Rice University in 1976 he was named to the Gene and Norman Hackerman Chair in Chemistry in 1982. He was a founder of the Rice Quantum Institute in 1979 and served as the Chairman from 1986 to 1996. In 1990 he became a professor in the Department of Physics and was appointed University Professor in 2002. He was the founding director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice from 1996 to 2002, and is now Director of the new Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory at Rice.

In 1990 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1991 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of the 1991 Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics, the 1992 International Prize for New Materials, the 1992 E.O. Lawrence Award of the U.S. Department of Energy, the 1992 Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry, the 1993 William H. Nichols Medal of the American Chemical Society, the 1993 John Scott Award of the City of Philadelphia, the 1994 Europhysics Prize, the 1994 Harrison Howe Award, the 1995 Madison Marshall Award, the 1996 Franklin Medal, the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Distinguished Public Service Medal awarded by the U.S. Department of the Navy in 1997, the 2002 Glenn T. Seaborg Medal, and the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award of Small Times magazine. He received three honorary degrees in 2004: an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Richmond; a Doctor Scientiarum Honoris Causa from Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and a Doctor of Science from Tuskegee University.

Smalley is widely known for the discovery and characterization of C60 (Buckminsterfullerene, aka the "buckyball"), a soccer ballshaped molecule that, together with other fullerenes such as C70, now constitutes the third elemental form of carbon (after graphite and diamond). His current research is on buckytubes: elongated fullerenes that are essentially a new high-tech polymer, following on from nylon, polypropylene, and Kevlar. But unlike any of these previous wonder polymers, these new buckytubes conduct electricity. They are likely to find applications in nearly every technology where electrons flow. In February 2000 this research led to the start up of a new company, Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc., which is now developing large-scale production and applications of these miraculous buckytubes.



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