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WHAT ARE FULLERENES IN SHUNGITE?

Fullerenes in Shungite

Shungite is an incredible stone with some pretty mindblowing potential and proven abilites! What makes Shungite so special is the FULLERENES in its internal structure. What are Fullerenes? And what exactly do they do? Read on to find out!

What makes Shungite so unique and such an exciting find is in its unique composition. This is the third article on Shungite in our series – if you missed the first two, you might want to read them first as background info. This article is taking a deep dive into Fullerenes and will get a bit technical.

Shungite healing properties

SHUNGITE HEALING PROPERTIES

Article one will give you all the highlights on Shungite

Elite Noble Shungite vs Classic Shungite

ELITE NOBLE VS CLASSIC SHUNGITE

Article two will explain how Shungite is graded, and what the difference is between Elite Noble Shungite and Classic Shungite.

CARBON

Carbon, the primary content of Shungite, is the building material for our planet and the basis of all living organisms on Earth. It has the most Allotropes (i.e. modifications or different arrangements of atoms) of all the elements. For example, Diamond, Graphite, Carbyne and the special Fullerenes are all Carbon Allotropes.

Different Carbon Structures
Different Carbon structures including Fullerenes found in Shungite

WHAT ARE FULLERENES?

Shungite contains trace amounts of fullerenes. Fullerenes are 3D spherical molecules (resembling soccer balls) made of 60, 70 or more carbon atoms (known as C60, C70 or Cn) bound in linear chains forming a lattice. This formation has also been referred to as a type of carbon nanostructure (CNS). The C60 fullerene is often referred to as “buckyballs”.

Common types of Fullerenes
Common types of Fullerenes
Fullerene structure numbered Cn
A numbered Fullerene structure
Fuller designed the geodesic dome

OK, BUT… BUCKYBALLS?

The most famous fullerene is the C60, also known as the “Buckminsterfullerene”, consisting of 60 carbon atoms. The C60 fullerene garnered the nickname “buckyballs”, after the famous American architect and futurist Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller. Fuller designed the geodesic dome, whose shape resembles the structure of the C60 molecule.

The molecule is formed by twenty hexagons and twelve pentagons. A carbon atom is at each vertex of each polygon and there is a bond along each polygon edge. The C60 formation is the most symmetrical molecule a carbon atom can take.

WHEN WERE FULLERENES DISCOVERED?

Originally, this CNS fullerene structure was just a hypothesis – and one that science didn’t take much heed in at that! Then, in the 80s, scientists accidentally created them in a lab as a byproduct of another experiment. This accidental discovery led to a Nobel Prize award in 1996 jointly to the scientists involved (Professor Robert F. Curl, Harold W. Kroto and Richard E. Smalley). Finally, Fullerenes were found existing in nature in 1992 – in Shungite. This was the first time natural fullerenes had been found, and not artificially made in a lab!

“Nature, it turns out, made a molecule long before people did…Carbon-based molecules shaped like soccer balls have fascinated chemists since the first one was synthesized seven years ago. Now for the first time these molecules, fullerenes, have been found in nature, lodged in rock that seems to date from the dawn of life on our planet. The discovery, reported in today’s issue of the journal Science, has mystified scientists, who cannot explain the origin of the natural fullerene molecules or even of the enigmatic mineral in which they were found.”

New York Times, 1992

K.S.Misra of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) was the first to report fullerene-bearing shungitic rocks from the volcano-sedimentary Proterozoic formations. Both C60 and C70 forms of fullerene were identified by laser desorption/ionization spectrometry in black carbonaceous shales (now called shungitic rocks) having an organic carbon content of 5-13%. The associated rocks include grey shales, dolomites and quartzites.

“We report on the occurrence of fullerenes in Proterozoic shungite (∼2 Ga) from the shungite mine, Kondopoga, Karelia, Russia (62.12°N 34.17°E). The presence of fullerenes has been confirmed by mass spectrometry, with peaks at 360 and 720 amu (atomic mass unit), powder X-ray diffraction showing ten diffraction peaks corresponding to the fullerite structure with a = 1.4201(5) nm, and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopic studies, showing a peak at 143.2 ppm. In the Kondopoga shungite mine, fullerenes occur in silty shales that have experienced greenshist facies metamorphism.”

G. Parthasarathy, R. Srinivasan, M. Vairamani, K. Ravikumar, A.C. Kunwar – “Occurrence of natural fullerenes in low grade metamorphosed Proterozoic shungite from Karelia, Russia”, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Volume 62, Issues 21–22, 1998

THE ORIGIN OF SHUNGITE & FULLERENES

AS discussed in article 1, Shungite’s origins were initially shrouded in mystery. It’s currently accepted by most scientists that Shungite was most likely formed from emerging fungi / microorganisms. However, some still believe that the fullerenes were in fact brought here on a meteoroid from space.

“In 2010, the spectral signatures of C60 and C70 were observed by NASA’s Spitzer infrared telescope in a cloud of cosmic dust surrounding a star 6500 light years away. According to astronomer Letizia Stanghellini, “It’s possible that buckyballs from outer space provided seeds for life on Earth.””

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullerene

In the 2012 paper “Fullerenes and The Origin of Life“, scientists hypothesise further on this theory:

We hypothesize that by virtue of the unique properties of fullerene, this hollow, ultra-robust, large, purely carbon molecule was the earliest progenitor of life. It acted as a stable universal biologic template on which small molecules spontaneously assembled and then formed, by further assembly, a surface mantle (here termed rosasome) of larger molecules. We submit that this process, by its inherent flexibility, initiated evolution, allowing the emergence of parallel diverse rosasome lines responding selectively to varying spatial environments. 

Goodman G, Gershwin ME, Bercovich D. Fullerene and the origin of life. Isr Med Assoc J. 2012 Oct;14(10):602-6. PMID: 23193780.

WHAT CAN FULLERENES DO?

Fullerene’s unique carbon cage structure coupled with its immense scope for derivatization make them incredibly interesting as a potential therapeutic agent.  Some say their usefulness could be infinite.

Fullerenes nano technology in medicine

Fullerenes, specifically C60, have antiviral and antioxidant activity – with strong implications on the treatment of HIV. They are also being studied as treatment for antibiotic-resistant bacteria (by binding specific antibiotics to the structure to target the resistant bacteria) – and even target certain cancer cells. Fullerenes light-activated antimicrobial agent properties are also under study.

“The fullerene family, and especially C60, has appealing photo, electrochemical and physical properties, which can be exploited in various medical fields. Fullerene is able to fit inside the hydrophobic cavity of HIV proteases, inhibiting the access of substrates to the catalytic site of enzyme. It can be used as radical scavenger and antioxidant. At the same time, if exposed to light, fullerene can produce singlet oxygen in high quantum yields. This action, together with direct electron transfer from excited state of fullerene and DNA bases, can be used to cleave DNA. In addition, fullerenes have been used as a carrier for gene and drug delivery systems. Also they are used for serum protein profiling as MELDI material for biomarker discovery.”

Bakry, R., Vallant, R. M., Najam-ul-Haq, M., Rainer, M., Szabo, Z., Huck, C. W., & Bonn, G. K. (2007). Medicinal applications of fullerenes. International journal of nanomedicine, 2(4), 639–649.

In the 1970s, shungite was exploited in the production of an insulating material, known as shungisite. Shungisite is prepared by heating rocks with low shungite concentrations to 1090–1130 °C and is used as a low density filler.

FULLERENE USES INCLUDE:

REFERENCES

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