Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beaded Fullerenes : 3D Molecular Structures

By on Sunday, May 23, 2010 10 Comments

Virtually all the tutorials I have featured on this blog have come from other jewelry artisans or crafters. So for the first time (not counting myself), I am featuring how-tos from scientists, specifically the Chemistry Department of the National Taiwan University!

How did that happen? Well, they make beaded models of a type of carbon molecule called fullerenes. They are great teaching tools for students to learn about chemical bonding and molecular structures. Check out their post on a fullerene beading workshop at a high school.

Fullerenes can be in different shapes like tubes or spheres. The round ones are called buckyballs in honor of American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller who created geodesic domes.

The 1985 discovery of fullerenes was so important, it won the 3 discoverers the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 11 years later. Why? Until then, there were only three known forms or allotropes of carbon molecules - diamonds (tetrahedral arrangement which is the strongest making it a very hard substance), graphite or pencil lead ( lattice sheets) and soot or charcoal which has no crystalline structure. Carbon nanotubes, part of the fullerene family, are extremely useful in modern applications such as nanotechnology, electronics, architecture, construction and optics.

Some of this group`s beaded fullerenes are very complex as you can see from the top photo which shows a bird's eye view of a high genus fullerene. The procedure is outlined here.

Their creations have definite potential in jewelry making designs. One of the blog authors, made many keychains based on 120 atom tetrahedon structures shown below.  It takes him about an hour to make each one.

The basic bead weaving technique they use is the right angle weave. To learn all about their weaving techniques, the lengths of fishing line and so on, check out this search. Their explanations are not always the way we are accustomed to as they are not primarily beaders but scientists. However, they do have a schematic plot for beginners.

This is a chiral tetrahedral fullerene.

I had fun exploring their unusually inspirational blog. Besides the fullerenes, they also showed their beaded version of the 20 gold atom tetrahedron structure. These would make great charms!

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. Wow - even though I am a trained scientist I didn't think you could combine science and beading!

  2. I just found my new favorite beading resource of all time. I had to share this link with every other bead lover out there.

  3. wow nerdy and crafty! nice!!!

  4. Very interesting, I also checked out his blog, he has got a sense of humor. You always find ways to shows that beading is connected to all facets of life. Enjoy your week!

  5. Glad everyone enjoyed this unusual post! Hope everyone has a great week too!

  6. I was his student of general chemistry course. He used beads to demonstrate the structure of buckyball, and we did have a great time of learning by hand.

  7. Love your blog and its vast scope--thanks for posting all of this great stuff. I'm a scientist by training so these types of articles fascinate me! I also love your posts on using recycled materials in jewelry.

  8. Great to meet a fellow scientist on this beading blog! There is a fair amount of science in gemstones and beading if we only look! Pearl

  9. you might want to check out
    almost all of the work is based on geometry -- enjoy!

  10. Wonderful work pkplan! Off to explore your work even more!