Richard Smalley

Infobox Scientist
name = Richard Errett Smalley
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caption = Richard Errett Smalley
birth_date = June 6, 1943
birth_place = Akron, Ohio
death_date = October 28, 2005
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nationality =
ethnicity =
field =
work_institutions = Rice University
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known_for = buckminsterfullerene
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prizes = Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996
religion = Christian
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Richard Errett Smalley (June 6, 1943October 28, 2005) was the "Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry" and a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University, in Houston, Texas. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for the discovery of a new form of carbon, buckminsterfullerene ("buckyballs") (with Robert Curl, also a professor of chemistry at Rice, and Harold Kroto, a professor at the University of Sussex).

Early life

Smalley, the youngest of 4 siblings, was born in Akron, Ohio, and grew up in Kansas City, Missouri.

Smalley attended Hope College before transferring to the University of Michigan where he received his B.S. in 1965. Between his studies, he worked in industry, where he developed his unique managerial style. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1973. He completed postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago, with Lennard Wharton and Donald Levy, where he was a pioneer in the development of supersonic beam laser spectroscopy.

Fullerenes and nanotechnology

Smalley's research in physical chemistry investigated formation of inorganic and semiconductor clusters using the then-novel technique of ion-cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. As a consequence of this expertise, Robert Curl introduced him to Harry Kroto in order to investigate a question about the constituents of astronomical 'dark matter'. The result of this collaboration was the discovery of C60 as the third allotropic form of carbon.

The research that earned Kroto, Smalley and Curl the Nobel Prize was published in the Nov. 14, 1985, issue of Nature as "C60: Buckminsterfullerene." Although only three people can be cited for a Nobel Prize, graduate students James R. Heath and Sean C. O'Brien participated in the work. Smalley mentions them in his Nobel Lecture. Heath went on to become a professor at CalTech and O'Brien joined Texas Instruments.

Following nearly a decade's worth of research into the formation of alternate fullerine compounds (e.g. c28, c70), as well as the synthesis of endohedral metallofullerinese (M@c60), reports of the identification of carbon nanotube structures led Rick to begin investigating the iron-catalyzed synthesis of carbon nanotubes.

As a consequence of these researches, Smalley was able to persuade the administration of Rice University under Malcolm Gillis to create the Rice Center for Nanoscience and Technology (CNST), focusing on any aspect of molecular nanotechnology.

Smalley's latest research was focused on carbon nanotubes, specifically focusing on the chemical synthesis side of nanotube research. He is well-known for his group's invention of the high-pressure carbon monoxide (HiPco) method of producing large batches of high-quality nanotubes. Smalley spun off his work into a company, Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc. and associated nanotechnologies.

He was an outspoken critic of the idea of molecular assemblers, as advocated by K. Eric Drexler and introduced scientific objections to them. His two main objections, which he had termed the “fat fingers problem" and the "sticky fingers problem”, was that he believed they exclude the possibility of precision picking and placing of individual atoms. He also believed that Drexler’s speculations about apocalyptic dangers of molecular assemblers threaten the public support for development of nanotechnology. He debated Drexler in an exchange of letters which were published in Chemical & Engineering News as a point-counterpoint feature. []

Later life

In his later years, Smalley was very outspoken about the need for cheap, clean energy, which he described as the number one problem facing humanity in the 21st century. He felt that improved science education was key, and went to great lengths to encourage young students to consider careers in science. His slogan for this effort was "Be a scientist, save the world."

Skeptical of religion in general for most of his life, Smalley became a Christian during his last years. (See the Wikiquote for his personal statement in May 2005.)

At the Tuskegee University's 79th Annual Scholarship Convocation/Parents' Recognition Program he made the following statement regarding the subject of evolution while urging his audience to take seriously their role as the higher species on this planet. [] “The burden of proof is on those who don't believe that "'Genesis' was right, and there was a creation, and that Creator is still involved. We are the only species that can destroy the Earth or take care of it and nurture all that live on this very special planet. I'm urging you to look on these things. For whatever reason, this planet was built specifically for us. Working on this planet is an absolute moral code. ... Let's go out and do what we were put on Earth to do."

Old Earth creationist and astronomer Hugh Ross spoke at Smalley's funeral, November 2, 2005. Audio of speech is available. []

In 1999 Smalley was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which later became chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He died on October 28, 2005, at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, at the age of 62.


*Hope College, Holland, Michigan, 1961-1963
*B.S., Chemistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1965
*M.A., Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, 1971
*Ph.D., Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, 1973


id = PMID:16373566
first=W Wade
first2=Ray H
publication-date=2005 Dec 23
title=Retrospective: Richard E. Smalley (1943-2005).
doi = 10.1126/science.1122120


*Smalley, R.E. [ "Supersonic bare metal cluster beams. Final report"] , Rice University, United States Department of Energy--Office of Energy Research, (Oct. 14, 1997).
*Smalley, R.E. [ "Supersonic Bare Metal Cluster Beams. Technical Progress Report, March 16, 1984 - April 1, 1985"] , Rice University, United States Department of Energy--Office of Basic Energy Sciences, (Jan. 1, 1985).



* Harold W. Dodds Fellow, Princeton University, 1973
* Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 1978 - 1980
* Fellow of the American Physical Society, 1987
* Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2003

Awards and prizes

*Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics, American Physical Society, 1991
*Popular Science Magazine Grand Award in Science & Technology, 1991
*APS International Prize for New Materials, 1992 (Joint with R. F. Curl & H. W. Kroto)
*Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award, U.S. Department of Energy, 1992
*Welch Award in Chemistry, Robert A. Welch Foundation, 1992
*Auburn-G.M. Kosolapoff Award, Auburn Section, American Chemical Society, 1992
*Southwest Regional Award, American Chemical Society, 1992
*William H. Nichols Medal, New York Section, American Chemical Society, 1993
*The John Scott Award, City of Philadelphia, 1993
*Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize, European Physical Society, 1994
*Harrison Howe Award, Rochester Section, American Chemical Society, 1994
*Madison Marshall Award, North Alabama Section, American Chemical Society, 1995
*Franklin Medal, The Franklin Institute, 1996
*Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 1996
*Rice University Homecoming Queen, Rice University Undergraduates, 1996 (according to [] , confirmed by Smalley's official CV at [] )
*Distinguished Civilian Public Service Award, Department of the Navy, 1997
*American Carbon Society Medal, 1997
*Top 75 Distinguished Contributors, Chemical & Engineering News, 1998
*Lifetime Achievement Award, Small Times Magazine, 2003
*Glenn T. Seaborg Medal, University of California at Los Angeles, 2002
*Distinguished Alumni Award, Hope College, 2005
*50th Anniversary Visionary Award, SPIE - International Society for Optical Engineering, 2005

External links

* [ Biography and Bibliographic Resources] , from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, United States Department of Energy
* [ Smalley Group - Rice University]
* [ Official Press Release: 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry]
* [ Brief autobiography] – From the Nobel Foundation website
* [ Nanotech pioneer, Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley dead at 62] – Rice University press release
* [ Carbon Nanotechnologies Inc.]
* [ Interview: Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Richard Smalley] – PBS Online NewsHour, "The Future of Fuel: Advances in Hydrogen Fuel Technology"
* [ Energy: the 50-year Plan] –
* [ Energy] video of Richard Smalley –
* [ Obituary by Harold Kroto, published in Angewandte Chemie]

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  • Richard Smalley — Richard Errett Smalley (* 6. Juni 1943 in Akron, Ohio; † 28. Oktober 2005) war ein amerikanischer Chemiker. Leben Smalley war Professor an der Rice University in Houston, Texas. 1996 wurde Smalley, einer der Pioniere auf dem Feld der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Richard Smalley — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Richard Errett Smalley (Akron, EUA, 6 de junio de 1943 Houston 2005) fue un químico y profesor universitario estadounidense galardonado con el Premio Nobel de Química del año 1996. Biografía Estudió química en el… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Richard Smalley — Richard Errett Smalley (6 juin 1943 à Akron, Ohio, États Unis 28 octobre 2005 à Houston, Texas, États Unis) est un chimiste américain. Robert Curl, Harold Kroto et lui sont colauréats du prix Nobel de chimie de 1996 « pour leur découverte… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Richard Smalley — noun American chemist who with Robert Curl and Harold Kroto discovered fullerenes and opened a new branch of chemistry (born in 1943) • Syn: ↑Smalley, ↑Richard E. Smalley, ↑Richard Errett Smalley • Instance Hypernyms: ↑chemist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Chemienobelpreis 1996: Robert Floyd Curl — Harold Walter Kroto — Richard Smalley —   Die Amerikaner Curl und Smalley erhielten den Nobelpreis gemeinsam mit dem Briten Kroto »für die Entdeckung der Fullerene«, auch Buckyballs genannt, einer neuen Form des Kohlenstoffs mit kugelförmigen Molekülen.    Biografien   Robert Floyd… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Richard Errett Smalley — (* 6. Juni 1943 in Akron, Ohio; † 28. Oktober 2005) war ein amerikanischer Chemiker. Leben Smalley war Professor an der Rice University in Houston, Texas. 1996 wurde Smalley, einer der Pioniere auf dem Feld der Nanotechnologie, zusammen mit… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Richard E. Smalley — Richard Smalley. Richard Errett Smalley (* 6. Juni 1943 in Akron, Ohio; † 28. Oktober 2005 in Houston, Texas) war ein US amerikanischer Chemiker. Leben Smalley studierte Chemie an d …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Richard E. Smalley — Richard Smalley Richard Errett Smalley est un chimiste, né le 6 juin 1943 à Akron, Ohio aux États Unis et décédé le 28 octobre 2005 à Houston, Texas (USA). Il reçut le prix Nobel de chimie en 1996, avec Harold Kroto et Robert Curl, pour sa… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Smalley — can mean:People* Anthony A. Smalley * Beryl Smalley * Dave Smalley * Dave Smalley (Cleveland) * David Allen Smalley * Denis Smalley * Gary Smalley * Kyle E. Smalley * Phillips Smalley * Richard Smalley, Nobel prize in chemistry 1996 * Roger… …   Wikipedia

  • Richard E. Smalley — noun American chemist who with Robert Curl and Harold Kroto discovered fullerenes and opened a new branch of chemistry (born in 1943) • Syn: ↑Smalley, ↑Richard Smalley, ↑Richard Errett Smalley • Instance Hypernyms: ↑chemist …   Useful english dictionary

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