Curl, Robert Floyd, Jr., 1933–, American chemist, b. Alice, Tex., Ph.D. Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1957. Curl has been a professor at Rice Univ. in Houston, Tex., since 1958. In 1996 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Richard Smalley and Harold Kroto for the discovery of fullerenes, which are carbon atoms bound in the form of a ball. Since the initial breakthrough by the three researchers, a number of structural variations on fullerenes have been developed, and much research has focused on exploring potential applications. These materials offer high heat resistance and superconductivity and have laid the foundation for work in the field of nanotechnology.
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