Harry Kroto


Harry Kroto won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1996, for the discovery of Carbon 60. He is the Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry at Florida State University. His main areas of research are: Spectroscopy of Unstable Species and Reaction Intermediates (Infrared, Photoelectron, Microwave and Mass Spectrometry); Astrophysics (Interstellar Molecules and Circumstellar Dust); Cluster Science (Carbon and Metal Clusters, Microparticles, Nanofibres); Fullerene Chemistry, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

Harry is the founder of The Vega Science Trust, which was set up to give the scientists who are experts in their fields a broadcasting platform to inform students, teachers and the public directly about scientific matters that are exciting and also are of concern. The Trust has produced 60 programs for TV and the Internet of which 50 have been shown on the BBC2 Learning Zone - most are presently being broadcast streamed from the Vega Website.

In Memoriam

We are saddened to report that Sir Harry Kroto, the British Nobel prize-winning chemist who co-discovered a new form of carbon, died at age 76 in April 2016.

He is best known for his role in revealing that carbon can exist in the form of a hollow football-like structure. Named "buckminsterfullerene" after the similarly shaped domed buildings produced by the American architect Buckminster Fuller, these structures soon became known as "buckyballs".

Produced by Harry and his colleagues in 1985 by turning an intense laser pulse on graphite, this new form of carbon was found to be composed of 60 carbon atoms, with later work confirming their suspicion that these atoms were arranged like the corners of the panels of a football, giving 20 hexagon-shaped faces and 12 pentagon shaped faces. The team also discovered that carbon could exist in clusters of other sizes, including a structure made of 70 carbon atoms that was later found to be rugby ball-shaped.

Blinded by a divine light

The breakthrough won Harry and his colleagues Richard Smalley and Robert Curl the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1996, and spurred further discoveries by other scientists of a host of carbon structures that have proved promising in myriad applications, from drug delivery to strengthening tennis rackets.

Harry also was involved in the founding of educational outreach programs. In 1995, he jointly set up the Vega Science Trust, a UK educational charity that created high quality science films including lectures and interviews with Nobel Laureates, discussion programs, careers and teaching resources for TV and Internet Broadcast. Vega produced over 280 programs, that streamed for free from the Vega website which acted as a TV science channel.

In 2009, Harry spearheaded the development of a second science education initiative, Geoset. Short for the Global Educational Outreach for Science, Engineering and Technology, GEOSET is an ever-growing online cache of recorded teaching modules that are freely downloadable to educators and the public. The program aims to increase knowledge of the sciences by creating a global repository of educational videos and presentations from leading universities and institutions.