Nobel Prize winner delivers keynote speech at global science conference

August 26, 2005

Nobel Prize Winner Professor Sir Harry Kroto FRS, who changed the face of chemistry through his co-discovery of 'buckyballs', is to deliver the keynote speech at a global science conference to be held at the University of Manchester.

Kroto, who along with Robert F. Curl Jr. and Richard E. Smalley, won the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, will deliver the keynote speech at the SIMS XV conference on September 12th.

Kroto's co-discovery of buckminster-fullerenes, molecules of 60 carbon atoms (C60) shaped like a football, has led to major advances in the materials' sciences and now as a consequence of its exploitation in Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS), the subject of the conference, it promises to lead to some exciting new research advances in, for example the study of biomaterials like human tissue.

His speech, entitled: "Some New Insights in to the Mechanisms of Fullerene and Nanotube Formation," will seek to put these advances, and his own current research, into context focusing on the potential he believes these molecules have for future research.

Currently, Kroto is fabricating 'buckytubes,' consisting of a cylindrical carbon net that is stronger than steel and could form the basis for the thinnest possible electrical wires.

Professor John Vickerman, Director of the Surface Analysis Research Centre, who has organised the conference, said: "SIMS is a powerful analytical technique at the heart of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and biotechnology such as drug delivery systems, nanoparticles, tissue engineering, organic electronics and high added value technologies."

"These applications promise to be dramatically advanced by the exploitation of C60 and similar molecules in SIMS. Professor Kroto's work has also stimulated an entirely new branch of chemistry, one that will most likely lead to amazing new applications, including new materials and instruments in the biomedical field. We anticipate this will be an extremely stimulating lecture by one of the world¡'s most prominent scientists and speakers."

The biennial conference, which will be the first held in the UK, will bring together leading academics from across the globe focusing on the use of SIMS technology in the fields of cultural heritage, next generation computer processor technology, advanced materials, geology and the life sciences.

It will include a 'Symposium on Archaeometry, Cosmochemistry and Geology' and a discussion on 'Meeting the Challenge of Molecule Specific Analysis and Imaging in Organic and Bio-Systems'. Other highlights include the characterisation of nanoparticles and nanotechnology. A second plenary lecture will be presented by the University of Manchester's Professor Simon Gaskell on 'The contribution of mass spectrometry to the bio-sciences'.

For further information: Simon Hunter, Media Relations Officer, telephone: 0-161-275-8387.

Notes to Editors:
Harry Kroto will deliver his keynote speech on: September 12th, 1400, Renold Building, University of Manchester.

Harry Kroto is Francis Eppes Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State University, USA.

SIMS XV Website:

Keynote speech overview: 'Some New Insights in to the Mechanisms of Fullerene and Nanotube Formation': Fullerene molecules and their elongated nanotube cousins have now been the subject of intense study for nearly 15 years. They still promise to play major roles in almost every possible area of 21st Century science and technology from medicine and molecular electronics to materials science and civil engineering. This promise will only be realized when accurate control of nanoscale structure assembly and growth is achieved.

However the mechanisms whereby various types of nanostructures assemble are still very poorly understood. Over the last decade or so, we have examined a wide range of approaches to nanotube formation and from these studies some interesting new insights have been gained ¡V especially with regard to metal catalysed nanostructure formation. We have however also learned that we have still a long way to go!

The technique of Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) is the most sensitive of all the commonly-employed surface analytical techniques - this is because of the inherent sensitivity associated with mass spectrometric-based techniques. In SIMS, a sample surface is bombarded with a beam of ions (C60 ions have been investigated in Manchester and have been shown to deliver remarkable new results). This results in the emission of a range of secondary particles, including positively and negatively charged ions. These secondary ions, both atomic and molecular species, are then analysed providing detailed information about the chemical structure of the sample.

Professor Simon Gaskell is Associate Vice President for Research at The university of Manchester. His talk will be delivered on Wednesday 14th September at 08.40.

University of Manchester

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