Ace in the hole

2019-03-07 08:16:18

Leaky soccer balls aren’t usually of much use. But now Henry Foley of the University of Delaware in Newark and Mark Shiflett at nearby science company DuPont have joined shards of soccer-ball-shaped buckminsterfullerene (C 60) molecules to create a membrane riddled with pores only a handful of atoms across. Different gases pass through the holes at different speeds. The researchers used this property of the membrane to separate oxygen from nitrogen in air—an important industrial process that usually requires large amounts of energy and time (Science, vol 285, p 1902). “We’re excited by the prospect of using this membrane for a wide variety of separation processes,