Fullerenes are new forms of pure carbon with chemical, electrical, and physical characteristics quite different from the two previously known forms, graphite and diamond. The most common fullerene configuration is a soccer-ball-shaped molecule of 60 atoms (buckyballs), although carbon-70 and other variations can also be made. Researchers are studying fullerenes for use as a foundation for diamond films and in batteries, catalysts, superconductors and molecular membranes. They may also be useful in lubricants, photoconductors, gas storage, radiation therapy, medical imaging, novel polymers, rocket propellants, nonlinear optical devices, molecular-scale machinery and high-strength microfibers.
In 1990, RCT worked with Drs. Donald Huffman and Wolfgang Krätschmer to broadly protect their discoveries through patents covering both on the method of production and composition of matter for fullerenes. Subsequently, RCT partnered with Materials and Electrochemical Research Corporation (MER) and Mitsubishi Corporation to form Fullerene International Corporation (FIC) for the commercialization of fullerenes using the Huffman/Krätschmer process. Mitsubishi purchased FIC from its partners, RCT and MER, in 2007.
Drs. Donald Huffman at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona and Wolfgang Krätschmer at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany.