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When I first heard about buckminsterfullerene, I thought it was a very fascinating molecule, with its interesting complex ring structure and pseudo-symmetry. I wonder though, can you get similar structures with other atoms? Maybe neighbors of similar size, like boron, nitrogen or oxygen? Or maybe silicon, one row down? What would their chemistry be like?

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    $\begingroup$ This looks kinda too broad. There are various similar molecules. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Oct 22 '17 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ Check out en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borospherene $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Oct 22 '17 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ Simple P4O10 has a hollow, if not spherical structure. en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Inorganic_Chemistry/… $\endgroup$ – DrMoishe Pippik Oct 22 '17 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ So does $\ce{P4O6}$. Hexamethylenetetramine is isoelectronic and isostructural with $\ce{P4O6}$ apart from the outer hydrogen atoms. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi Oct 22 '17 at 23:34
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    $\begingroup$ There are plenty heteroatomic molecular clusters with even more complex structures. Or do you want a single element assembly only? $\endgroup$ – andselisk Oct 23 '17 at 2:45
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Cool question! Always stay curious!

A while ago, I had a similar question that started it's journey with silicon, being of similar bonding capability to carbon. However, over the course of my research, I realized that silicon was just too low on the periodic table (and therefore much heavier) to be so extremely stable in such a wide variety of forms such as fullerenes and long, complex hydrocarbons.

However, my search was not in vain. I stumbled upon Boron Nitride, an isoelectronic analog to carbon graphite. Many different compounds have been synthesized from boron nitride, consisting of a wide array of fullerene analogs, such as Boron Nitride Nanotubes, or BNNTs, which by themselves have plenty of applications. For example, paper products made from these nanotubes are highly flame retardant, as is shown in the image below:

BNNT burn test

The trick is that $\ce{B-N}$ has very similar properties to $\ce{C=C}$, with very little difference in molecular weight, and so many analogous compounds can be built using either monomer. However, boron nitride is different enough to have unique applications in certain areas. Cool, right?

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