In the 1980s, the discovery of soccer-ball-shaped carbon molecules called buckyballs helped to spur an explosion in nanotechnology research.
Now, there appears to be a new ball on the pitch - a cluster of 40 boron atoms forms a hollow molecular cage similar to a carbon buckyball. It's the first experimental evidence that a boron cage structure, previously only a matter of speculation, does indeed exist.
Carbon buckyballs are made of 60 carbon atoms arranged in pentagons and hexagons to form a sphere—like a soccer ball. Their discovery in 1985 was soon followed by discoveries of other hollow carbon structures including carbon nanotubes. Another famous carbon nanomaterial—a one-atom-thick sheet called graphene—followed shortly after.