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The first and only plant-based, sustainable, cost-effective, functional fullerenes for personal care

More than a quarter century before the Nobel Prize, a Japanese professor dreamed of a shape…

In the early 70s, professor Eiji Ōsawa — degreed in engineering, fixated on chemical structure — hypothesized a molecule. The C60 he pictured would comprise 60 carbon atoms in a form that would imbue it with remarkable properties, an icosahedral cage.

While professor Ōsawa’s search was surefooted as it was far-reaching, he lacked the technological tools to prove just how far he could see into the future.

Japanese scientific journals resounded nationwide with the professor’s findings… which never crossed the border. But it wasn’t long before scientists in the U.K. and U.S. were racing to find their own key to unlocking the fullerene, based on their individual area of specialization.

If C60 existed it would be the first discovery since prehistory of a new, stand-alone form of carbon, the singular element consistent to all life. The only other known allotropes of carbon, were diamond and graphite.

Then, what professor Ōsawa first predicted was found…

Sir Harold Kroto, of the U.K.’s University of Sussex, looked for C60 spectroscopically. Richard E. Smalley and Robert F. Curl Jr., professors at Rice University took a different tack. The three formed a team, and in 1985, over a period of 11 days of continuous experimentation in Texas, produced C60 in a laboratory for the first time. They named the particle fullerene, and it earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996.

In 2010, using NASA’s earth-orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope, something professor Kroto had speculated about as early as 1980 was proved through long-distance telescopic spectroscopy. Vast areas of the interstellar matrix, the fabric of the universe, are composed of the same C60 carbon molecules produced in Texas in 1985. The implications for the origin of all life are staggering.

Fullerenes remain a mystery to most of us, but the world of science immediately recognized their discovery as a distinct paradigm shift, with broad implications in the worlds of chemistry and medicine, superconductivity, and materials science.

And they’re called fullerenes because…

They’re named after R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983) — architect, philosopher, and futurist of colossal vision. In fact, the first name the team gave them was buckminsterfullerenes, but cooler heads prevailed. Most just call them “buckyballs”.

He actually had nothing to do with the discovery, and probably had few strong thoughts about the subject. But as a young architect he’d devised an icosahedral structure called the geodesic dome, one that provided an answer to myriad complex questions in architecture about resiliency and efficiency, much the same way that C60 did in chemistry. Extend a geodesic dome into a sphere and you’ve got a fullerene.

It’s a fitting homage to a born scientist and beloved seeker of new ways to answer eternal questions.

A return to Japan, and the next step: sustainability…

This century brought a torrent of interest in the practical application of fullerenes to personal care, and pioneering work by the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan, parent company of VC60 BioResearch Corp., caught the attention of the world, including professor Kroto and his colleagues. Yet, producing fullerenes without expending immense resources was elusive. In 2020, after years of single-minded research and development, VC60 BioResearch Corp., announced the first-ever line of plant-derived, conscientiously and sustainably produced fullerenes, making them practical, versatile, and most importantly, available — and finally putting them within reach of a demanding public.