An unusual carbon-rich rock believed to be more than 600 million years old has yielded the first evidence that fullerenes occur in nature.
The fullerenes C60 and C70 were discovered in a sample of shungite, a rock of uncertain origin found near the Russian town of Shunga, about 250 miles northeast of St. Petersburg.
The serendipitous discovery was made by geochemist Peter R. Buseck and mineralogist Semeon J. Tsipursky, both of Arizona State University, Tempe, and mass specrrometrist Robert Hettich of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. They published their findings last week in Science [257,215 (1992)].
The discovery means fullerenes can no longer be thought of as purely artificial materials made in the lab using laser vaporization, carbon arcs, or combustion processes. Several groups previously looked for fullerenes in soot deposits and in meteorites, without success. And scientists searching for the fullerene spectral signature in interstellar dust clouds found no definitive evidence. ...
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