ECS Podcast – A Word About Nanocarbons

A historic gathering of past chairmen of the ECS Nanocarbons Division was held at the 227th ECS Meeting in Chicago. ECS Executive Director Roque Calvo sat down with Karl Kadish, Prashant Kamat, Francis D’Souza, Dirk Guldi, and Bruce Weisman discuss the history of the Nanocarbons Division, practical applications of nanocarbons and fullerenes, and where we can expect this exciting science to go in the future.

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Five Questions for Nanocarbons Division Chairs
“I always say that when a new field emerges, never underestimate what it can do 10 or 20 years from now.”

How did the development of the buckminsterfullerene change the direction of science?
Bruce Weisman: It made a huge impact in chemistry. I teach a little course in nanocarbons now and as part of that I do a little literature search to see how many papers are in the literature and the fullerenes have about 50,000 papers. That is an enormous consequence for a single discovery.

How has this division evolved since its establishment?
Prashant Kamat: When we started fullerenes the majority of our discussions always often led to, “What is fullerenes? Why are you here at an ECS meeting? What does it have to do with electrochemistry?” Just turn around 10 or 20 years later and see that the nanocarbons are part of electrochemistry. Whether it is organic solar cell, or you can even go to fuel cells or batteries—nanocarbons, graphene, nanotubes—everyone is an integral part of it. I always say that when a new field emerges, never underestimate what it can do 10 or 20 years from now.

What are the significant areas your discipline is contributing to?
Francis D’Souza: Right now our discipline is focused mainly in energy harvesting. Some folks are working on sensing and biosensing. Some are working on biomedical applications of nanocarbons. There is not a field that is not touched. It is a group of very eminent scientists exploring the possibilities in every single field. You can expect big discoveries and great breakthroughs.

What are some of the practical applications within this science?
Dirk Guldi: Electronics and nanoelectronics and optoelectronics shouldn’t be forgotten as potential applications. It’s not just free standing on its own, but rather we’re an integrated circuit. That would certainly shape the market.

What can we expect for the future of nanocarbons and fullerenes?
Karl Kadish: It’s amazing—as my colleges have certainly pointed out—where the field is and where the field may be going. We had books every year, very large books—1,500 to 1,800 pages—and looking at what’s there, what’s said, and where we are now, it’s just so much of a quantum jump from what’s there. If we listen to this podcast in one year or two years or three years, I think what’s going to be there would be interesting to look at what we have in the future because we’re on a fast increase right now.


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