Flat hexagons and pentagons come together in new twist on old polyhedra
Molecular graphics performed with the University of California, San Francisco Chimera package. Figure provided by S. Schein.
In the latest verse of a centuries-old mathematical refrain, scientists have figured a way to iron out the wrinkles in a large class of molecular cages. The cages have faces consisting of 12 regular pentagons and up to 480 irregular hexagons, which puts them into a well-known category of shapes called fullerenes. However, unlike most previously known fullerenes, the new shapes’ hundreds of faces are flat rather than warped, and the atoms in the molecule are equally spaced.