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The University of Sussex

 18 Sept 2001 

Royal Mail stamp features co-discovery by University of Sussex Nobel Prize winner

The Royal Mail is to issue a stamp featuring the sensational scientific co-discovery by Nobel laurate Sir Harry Kroto, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Sussex and President-elect of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Sir Harry and two American colleagues - Professor Robert Curl and Professor Richard Smalley - won the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for their discovery of C60, a form of carbon in which 60 atoms are linked together in the form of a sphere. This form of carbon is now universally known as fullerene or, more colloquially, 'Buckyballs'.

The 2nd class (19p) stamp depicting C60 is part of an interactive set of six honouring British Nobel laureates and commemorating a century of Nobel Prizes. The heat from a finger is sufficient to reveal the image of an ion (an electrically charged particle) hidden within a heat-sensitive picture of the carbon molecule.

A different printing technology has been used on each of the other five stamps in the set, described by the Royal Mail as "one of the most technologically advanced stamp issues":

  • The 1st class (27p) stamp for economic sciences has been reproduced by the intaglio process, the printing technique originally used to create the Penny Black.
  • The peace prize is represented by an embossed image of a dove on the 37p stamp.
  • The 40p stamp is Britain's first and the world's third 'scratch and sniff' stamp, with a medicinal fragrance of eucalyptus.
  • Using microprinting, the entire text of T.S. Eliot's poem 'The Ad-dressing of Cats' is reproduced on the 45p stamp in letters 0.1 mm high.
  • The 65p stamp for physics, featuring an image of a boron molecule, is the first in Britain to include a hologram.

First-day covers and presentation packs are on sale at main post offices from 2 October.

 Press contacts 

Professor Sir Harry Kroto: tel. 01273 678329, email He is available for interview and/or photos only until midday Wednesday 19 September and will then be travelling abroad.

University of Sussex: Alison Field or Peter Simmons, tel. 01273 678888, fax 01273 877456, email or

Royal Society of Chemistry: Neville Reed, tel. 0207 4403319, email

Royal Mail (Stamps and Collectibles): Greg McNeill, tel. 0207847 3348, fax 0207847 3359, mobile 07801 094217, email

 Useful links 

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